Judge dismisses federal Vioxx case
Former patient who filed suit sought dismissal, claiming lack of support and Hurricane Katrina impact on preparation.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - A federal judge presiding over thousands of Vioxx lawsuits against Merck on Wednesday dismissed the first case filed by a long-term patient of the painkiller.
Judge Eldon Fallon dismissed the lawsuit filed by Ellis Diaz, who had taken the arthritis painkiller Vioxx for more than 18 months, according to papers filed in the federal district court in New Orleans. Like many of the other plaintiffs in the Vioxx cases, Diaz blames Merck's (up $0.52 to $36.00, Research) former blockbuster for his non-fatal heart attack.
The dismissal was made at the request of Diaz and his lawyer Phillip Wittmann, who cited "prejudice on grounds that the plaintiff's steering committee has refused to lend support to try this matter on June 12" and the effects of Hurricane Katrina on the terms of trial preparation, according to court papers.
Merck outside counsel Philip Beck said in an e-mail to CNNMoney.com that the steering committee's "recent change of position and decision not to support Mr. Diaz's case reflects the evidence proving that Mr. Diaz's heart attack was not caused in any way by his use of Vioxx" for longer than 18 months.
To read about the ongoing Vioxx case in New Jersey, click here.