I attended the Vioxx MDL hearing in New Orleans, LA. Here is a recap of the proceedings before Judge Fallon:
Judge Fallon expressed his desire that the Vioxx litigation not spread 'across all fifty states,' meaning obviously that you can expect him to issue rulings that streamline the litigation issues. What may happen? If he is anywhere close to the activist on the bench that Judge Bartle is as to the Fen Phen litigation, he will use a big stick - forcing bifurcation, issuing evidentiary rulings, etc. This Judge also stated that he wanted to complete the litigation within four to five years.
To everyone's surprise, Judge Fallon informed that the pending Rogers litigation had been continued. I'm hearing that it was continued for at least six months. People were literally turning their heads in surprise.
Issues addressed by Liasion Counsel included the preparation of Master Complaints, Discovery to Merck, and Fact Sheets. My office currently has more than a dozen cases pending in the State Court in New Jersey, and the Fact Sheet used there exceeds thirty pages.
It looks like Judge Fallon is setting a tone early. When informed that the FDA had been dragging its feet on FOIA requests, the Judge said that he would Order and FDA attorney to appear next month to answer for the delay. It will be interesting to hear the FDA attorney's excuse as to why a FOIA request is now seven months old.
Currently there are 477 cases that have been transferred to the MDL, and another 382 are on their way (As of 4/21/05).
It is expected that a Case Management Order will be issued in two months.
http://vioxx.laed.uscourts.gov for more information.