New York City, (NewYorkInjuryNews.com) — We have read about the nation wide Vioxx settlement by Merck for over 4.8 billion dollars. Vioxx was a pain killer manufactured by Merck that was pulled off the market in September of 2004 when it was learned that the drug could cause heart attacks or strokes. Thereafter almost 45,000 lawsuits were brought against Merck to recover damages. The vast majority of the cases claimed heart attacks or strokes. Since the litigation started, less than 20 cases actually went to trial. Because the manufacturer won most of those cases, it put them in the driver’s seat when it came to negotiating a settlement.
The settlement is contained in a complex document that provides that in order for the settlement to be effective, 85% of all eligible claimants must agree to it. In other words, you have a choice. However, given Merck’s success rate at winning these cases and the enormous expense of the numerous experts who must testify (some have put this expense at 1 million dollars per case) you may want to think long and hard about opting out if you are eligible.
To be eligible, you must have started a lawsuit or have entered into an agreement with Merck to “toll” (that is put off filing) a lawsuit. Then you must prove that you had a heart attack or stroke (or if this is a case where someone died, you must prove that they died from either one). Although people have claimed other ailments as a result of ingesting Vioxx such as kidney problems or heart arrhythmias – these conditions will not qualify.
Next you must prove that at least 60 days before the event (that is, the heart attack or stroke) that you were prescribed at least 30 pills and that you were actually taking them within 14 days of the event. This must all be documented through prescriptions, pharmacy records, doctors’ records and hospital records.
There is a limited review process. A committee first reviews the initial claims administrator’s findings. There is a second review by a “Special Master” which is final and binding and cannot be appealed to the Court. It is a very complicated matter, and should be analyzed in detail with your attorneys.
About the Author: Manhattan trial attorney, Nicholas Papain is a leading New York Personal Injury Lawyer, handling product liability litigation matters covering New York and New Jersey.