The New York Times
February 17, 2005
By BARNABY J. FEDER
Hundreds of individual and class-action lawsuits filed in federal courts against Merck, blaming its painkiller Vioxx for deaths and injuries, will be consolidated in a federal court in New Orleans before a judge that many plaintiffs' lawyers had hoped would receive the case.
The consolidation order that funneled the cases to Judge Eldon E. Fallon, 66, was issued yesterday by a seven-member administrative body of federal judges that rules on motions to centralize nationwide legal battles.
Lawyers for plaintiffs and the company presented their arguments late last month to the seven-judge panel, with both sides agreeing that the growing number of cases made consolidation desirable. Merck had asked that the cases be consolidated in a federal court in Illinois, Indiana or Maryland, but the court in Louisiana emerged as a favorite among the plaintiffs' lawyers.