The weather forecast in Madison County is just dandy for a late winter Monday: Sunny with a high of 45 degrees.

But the court's first Vioxx trial was delayed today due to the presiding judge's inability to catch a plane back to St. Louis because of inclement weather somewhere else.

Potential jurors were to be interviewed beginning first thing this morning in a proceeding known as "voir dire."

But they were told to go home because Madison County Circuit Judge Daniel Stack, who was vacationing before the five-week trial was to get started in earnest, was unable to be in court this morning.

Lawyers for the plaintiff and Merck will begin picking 12 jurors and three alternates tomorrow out of a group of 73 potential jurors.

The trial is expected to last four to five weeks.

In the meantime, another claim against Merck was made in St. Clair County Circuit Court Feb. 21 by St. Louis plaintiff's attorney Jeffrey J. Lowe.

Lowe and his co-counsel are seeking damages for personal injuries and economic damages suffered by their clients as a result of using the allegedly "defective and dangerous" pain-reliever Vioxx.

The three Illinois plaintiffs include a surviving spouse, Jeff Scott, who claims her husband suffered a heart attack and stroke after using Vioxx and died a wrongful death. The husband's name was Donald Scott, according to the complaint.

Another plaintiff, Jessie Tipton, claims he suffered a heart attack; and another, Kimberly Hubbard claims "because of his use of Vioxx, he suffered blood clots and related injuries."

Lowe's co-counsel includes St. Louis attorneys John Carey and Joseph P. Danis of Carey & Danis, Evan Buxner of the Walther Glenn Law Offices, and T. Evan Schaeffer and Andrea B. Lamere of Schaeffer & Lamere in Godfrey.

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