As you all know, this is a big week in the Vioxx litigation, and many analysts have been discussing the two Vioxx trials currently being litigated in Atlantic City, NJ with a majority of opinion being that these are "make or break" trials for the plaintiffs. I don't necessarily agree that these are cases the plaintiffs "must win" or the Vioxx litigation is doomed, but rather that the arguments, strategy and tactics on long term use cases will again be refined by both sides based on the facts of the case and the eventual outcome. Vioxx isn't going away, win or lose for the plaintiffs, and this trial will show how much further they need to go to get to the facts and evidence needed in each legitimate case to bring in a successful verdict.
What intrigues me in this current case is that it is the first major case being brought by plaintiff counsel who opted out of the MDL group a few months back, which was a very under reported story in this litigation. The two firms that are primarily handling this case, Attorney Mark Lanier's firm from Texas, and Weitz and Luxemborg from NY, are both nationally renown asbestos and class action law firms. While a healthy dose of ego's and professional pride is always involved in these things, the break away firm primarily objected to paying funds to the steering committee, and felt they could better use that money to fund their own experts and materials to build their own case knowledge.
Therefore, this case is the first example of the significant resources both of those firms can bring to bear, their ability to create what will largely be their own evidence and technical data, and test it against the massive resources of Merck. I am very anxious to see how this case plays out, in particular, what these two firms bring to the table that we haven't seen in the MDL cases, and what changes that might have on the outcome.