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Hare Wynn Announces $33 Million Combined Settlement in Vioxx Case

Alaska and Montana Reach Agreement in Lawsuit Against Merck

Lawsuits filed by the Attorney General of Montana and the Attorney General of Alaska against Merck pursuant to both the Alaska and Montana Consumer Protection Act has been settled for a combined $33 million. Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton, LLP, served as outside counsel for both states in the case.
The Alaska lawsuit settled for $15.25 Million; Montana’s settlement total was $16.7 Million. Both are the largest pharmaceutical Consumer Protection Act recoveries to-date in either state.
Hare Wynn partner, Matt Minner, is the firm’s lead counsel in the Vioxx case.

“This is a significant result and these cases set an important national precedent,” said Minner. “Both the Attorney General’s Office in Alaska and in Montana did an impressive job of protecting their citizens from this type of conduct.”

The State of Alaska filed their Complaint against Merck on December 23, 2005, in the United States District Court for the District of Alaska (3:06-cv-00018).  The case was transferred to the Eastern District of Louisiana on June 14, 2006, for inclusion in a multi-district litigation and was assigned to U. S. District Judge, Eldon E. Fallon.  In October 2014, Judge Fallon granted the State of Alaska’s Motion to Remand and the case was remanded to Judge Timothy M. Burgess in the United States District Court of Alaska.  On December 3, 2014, the State of Alaska filed a Supplemental Motion to Remand to state Court.  On February 6, 2015, that Supplemental Motion to Remand was granted and case was removed to Judge Catherine M. Easter in the Third Judicial District.                     
The State of Montana filed their Complaint against Merck on December 28, 2005, in the Lewis & Clark County District Court Division (ADV-2005-899).  The case was transferred to the Eastern District of Louisiana on August 15, 2006, for inclusion in a multi-district litigation and was assigned to U. S. District Judge, Eldon E. Fallon.  In October 2014, Judge Fallon granted the State of Montana’s Motion to Remand and the case was remanded to Judge Donald Molloy in the United States District Court of Montana.  On October 28, 2014, the State of Montana filed a Supplemental Motion to Remand to the First Judicial Court.  That Supplemental Motion was granted in February 2015 and the case was removed to Judge Mike Menahan in the First Judicial District of Lewis & Clark County.  This case was set to go to trial in Helena on September 12, 2016.
In 2014, Hare Wynn succeed in achieving a $25 million settlement for the Commonwealth of Kentucky as a result of a lawsuit filed by the Attorney General against Merck. Please see below for a brief background on the history of Vioxx litigation.
About Hare Wynn Newell & Newton, LLP
In its second century of practice, Hare Wynn is one of the most respected plaintiffs’ litigation firms in the country. Hare Wynn’s success has come as a result of the unique opportunity its attorneys have had to become both experienced and successful trial lawyers, as well as legal tacticians. Whether arguing to a jury in a rural county in Arkansas or to the United States Supreme Court, Hare Wynn’s lawyers have a proven track record of success for their clients.

Hare Wynn began in the late 1800’s, and through the firm’s founder, Francis Hare, was instrumental in making plaintiffs’ litigation affordable to those needing high quality representation in significant litigation. Built on a legacy of representing individuals, Hare Wynn continues to build on more than 100 years of successful trial experience in its representation of individuals, Fortune 500 companies, small business, and government entities.

Most recently, the magnitude of the firm’s litigation success was recognized when Hare Wynn was identified as one of the top plaintiff’s firms in the United States in being named to the National Law Journal’s Plaintiffs’ Hot List. The Journal honored Hare Wynn as one of 20 firms nationally “that are at the cutting edge of plaintiffs’ work – and giving the defense a run for their money.”  

Time Line and Background: Vioxx Litigation

  • November 1998 – Merck submits its application for Vioxx to the FDA and the FDA approved Merck’s request for an expedited review.
  • May 1999 – the FDA approves Vioxx for marketing in the United States.
  • March 2000 – Merck becomes aware of the results of its VIGOR trial. This trial was designed to establish that Vioxx was safer on the stomach than traditional pain medication. However, this study showed that patients taking Vioxx suffered 5 times as many heart attacks as patients taking Naproxen (Aleve). Beginning in March 2000, and continuing for the next year, a flurry of media reports and scientific articles questioned the cardiovascular safety of Vioxx.
  • April 2000 – April 2002 – Through numerous Press Releases, communications to sale representatives, and scientific articles authored by Merck employees, Merck repeatedly informed the public and scientific community that it stood behind the cardiovascular safety of Vioxx.
  • September 2001 – the FDA sent a Warning Letter to Merck related to its marketing of Vioxx. The FDA offered a scathing account of Merck marketing practices noting that Merck had no way to know whether or not Vioxx increased the risk of heart attacks and that it was misleading for Merck to state that it stood behind the cardiovascular safety of Vioxx.
  • April 2002 – September 2004 – The scientific community continued to publish studies questioning the cardiovascular safety of Vioxx.
  • August 2004 – Dr. Graham presents an analysis suggesting that Vioxx caused tens of thousands of heart attacks and deaths in the United States.
  • September 28, 2004 – Merck, citing a recent study, withdraws Vioxx from the market because it concluded there was a link between taking Vioxx and an increase in heart attacks.

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