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In re Vioxx Product Liability Litigation

869 F. Supp. 2d 719 (2012)

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In re Vioxx Product Liability Litigation

United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana

869 F. Supp. 2d 719 (2012)

Facts

Thousands of lawsuits were filed in federal and state courts against Merck (defendant) for issues relating to its drug Vioxx. The federal cases were consolidated in a multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the Eastern District of Louisiana. The parties in the MDL action reached a nationwide, $5 billion settlement of (1) the patients’ personal-injury claims against Merck and (2) the claims by insurance companies and other third-party payors (TPPs) for reimbursement of the money they had spent paying for the patients’ Vioxx. Both settlements were finalized. Separately, a state class-action lawsuit had been proceeding against Merck in Missouri. The Missouri class initially stated that it was seeking reimbursement of the money spent on Vioxx by patients, not TPPs. Further, the Missouri class was defined as only Missouri patients who did not have a personal-injury claim against Merck. Thus, no one in the Missouri class was a member of the nationwide settlement classes for the personal-injury claimants or TPPs. However, close to trial, the Missouri class indicated that it was actually seeking to recover all money ever spent in Missouri on Vioxx, including money spent by patients and TPPs who were members of the MDL settlement classes. Merck asked the federal MDL court to issue an injunction preventing the Missouri class from seeking damages for Vioxx payments that Merck had already reimbursed or otherwise settled in the MDL settlements. The Missouri class argued that the Anti-Injunction Act prevented the MDL court from enjoining the state-court action.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Fallon, J.)

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