Stories correctly note that many more trials will need to be held before there's any discussion of settlement, and that plaintiffs' attorneys don't admit being discouraged by the Humeston loss. The next case, Irvin, will begin in federal court on the 28th, where plaintiffs will be limited to Daubert-quality expert testimony before Judge Fallon, but will involve a wrongful death claim (albeit one with a decedent who had extensive plaque in his arteries). The plaintiffs' attorney there will be Jere Beasley, whose aborted first attempt at a Vioxx trial was covered by Overlawyered Apr. 28. Judge Higbee will hold a hearing this week to decide which of four potential plaintiffs' cases will be tried next. (Thomas Ginsberg, "Merck can expect more highs, lows", Philadelphia Inquirer, Nov. 6; Barbara Martinez, "Merck Faces A Crossroads In Vioxx Cases", Wall Street Journal, Nov. 7 ($); "Merck's Vioxx Victory May Not Help Future Cases, Analysts Say", Bloomberg, Nov. 4; Kristen Hays, "1st federal trial up for Merck", AP, Nov. 6).
Merck's attorney in the Irvin case will be Phil Beck, who won a critical Baycol case against Mikal Watts (Nov. 2) in Corpus Christi (OL Mar. 19, 2003). The must-read Wall Street Journal recap of that trial is now online. (Monica Langley, "Bayer, Pressed to Settle a Flood Of Suits Over Drug, Fights Back", Wall Street Journal, May 4, 2004).