Sat, August 20, 2005

Verdict uplifts Calgary lawyers


Prospects of a class-action lawsuit against the makers of pain-killing drug Vioxx were given a boost yesterday after a staggering, multimillion-dollar-US jury verdict, a Calgary lawyer says.

Vaughn Marshall of Marshall Attorneys, which launched the Alberta suit with Docken & Co., said the decision will have effects here.

"You're going to see more verdicts like this -- this Texas verdict today is a very positive indication there is a light at the end of the tunnel," Marshall said.

Though there is no binding precedent of a U.S. civil case on a Canadian class-action suit, Marshall said it bolsters the case here.

"Certainly from a moral perspective and an influence perspective, people ... who have yet to come forward, when they see that another court has ruled against Merck, they may add their names to our suit," he said.

The Alberta suit is a part of a national class action, in the process of applying to Ontario's highest court for approval of the case.

Jim Venables, who said he believes Vioxx caused a heart attack in July 2000 which left him unable to work, is a part of the lawsuit.

He said he is cautiously optimistic the Texas decision will give momentum to the Canadian suit, but added it likely won't affect Merck and Co.'s approach to other legal action.

"They're going to fight and fight -- at this point, Merck has said as much that it has no intention of settling," he said.