The New Jersey Supreme Court rejected a request by a union health plan to certify a national class action lawsuit against Merck on September 6, 2007. The claims were brought under New Jersey’s consumer fraud statutes by a union health plan on behalf of health insurers who paid for Vioxx prescriptions. The class had been previously certified by Judge Higbee, the New Jersey state court judge who oversees the centralized Vioxx litigation in Atlantic City, and an intermediate New Jersey appeals court. The Court’s ruling does not prevent health insurers from proceeding with their own individual claims against Merck. Financial analysts have estimated that Merck’s exposure from these health insurer claims could top $15 to $18 billion. In the past, claims under New Jersey’s consumer fraud statutes have been successful for plaintiffs, even when the juries rendered defense verdicts on personal injury claims. In June of 2007, Judge Higbee ordered Merck to pay nearly $4 million in attorney’s fees and costs for plaintiffs’ attorneys in the Cona and McDarby cases.
For more information on this subject matter, please refer to the section on Drugs, Medical Devices, and Implants.