[JURIST] The New Jersey Supreme Court [official website] dismissed a class action lawsuit [case documents] filed against pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co. [corporate website] Thursday, reversing a lower court's decision to grant nationwide class certification in the case. The lawsuit, filed by the International Union of Operating Engineers [union website] Local 68 Welfare Fund on behalf of various insurers and health-maintenance organizations, was one of several pending cases regarding Merck's marketing and distribution of the painkiller Vioxx [Merck backgrounder; JURIST news archive].
Decertification of the class action means plaintiffs can still file individual lawsuits against Merck but not as a unified class. Merck applauded [press release] the court's ruling, reiterating its argument that nationwide class certification was inappropriate in this case. In November 2006, a federal judge declined to certify a similar national class action suit [JURIST report] against Merck, ruling that it made more sense to try those cases in their respective states of origin. Merck has its worldwide headquarters in New Jersey. Bloomberg has more.