Peter Loftus of The Wall Street Journal reports today that a New Jersey state appellate court has reversed a lower court ruling dismissing a putative class action against Merck on behalf of people who used Vioxx for at least six (6) weeks but who have not evidenced any medical problems. While the opinion is a setback for the Vioxx defense team, it does not appear to be a “tremendous decision” as viewed by plaintiffs’ counsel. The New Jersey appellate court appears to be based on the decision that the trial court dismissed the class action claims “prematurely”; it held only that plaintiffs were entitled to additional discovery in an effort to prove whether they have a valid claim. Merck is reportedly considering whether to seek review in the New Jersey Supreme Court. Alternatively, defense attorneys may decide to let the plaintiffs conduct additional discovery and then renew the motion in the trial court, as there appears to be no medical evidence proving that people who stopped taking Vioxx more than two years ago remain at risk today.
Peter Loftus’ article, entitled “New Jersey Appeals Court Revives Proposed Vioxx Class-Action Suit,” may be found on page C15 of the January 17, 2007 edition of The Wall Street Journal. A more complete analysis of the case may be found in a separate article posted on this site on January 18, 2007.