John Driscoll of Brown & Crouppen

St. Louis personal injury firm Brown & Crouppen is well known for enticing potential clients through aggressive television advertising.

When the pain-relieving drugs Vioxx and Bextra were removed from the market last year because of safety concerns, Brown & Crouppen no sooner aired "breaking news" type commercials recruiting patients who might have been injured by taking the once-popular prescription medications.

The television campaign appears to continue to work well for the firm.

One of the firm's 19 lawyers, John Driscoll, has filed 14 product liability suits in Madison and St. Clair County Circuit Courts since July 28. The targets include Vioxx-maker Merck Pharmaceutical, Bextra- and Celebrex-makers Pfizer and Pharmacia and the retailer Walgreens.

Filing suit in St. Clair County:

  • Clara Kirkendall claims she suffered a heart attack at age 58 and alleges it was caused or significantly contributed to be caused by Vioxx. Kirkendall also is seeking damages from her pharmacy, Walgreens.

    Others who claim that Vioxx caused or significantly contributed to their heart attack or strokes:

  • David Spiegelberg suffered a heart attack when he was 52.

  • Steven Mitchell claims he had a heart attack when he was 55.

  • Betty Belue claims she had a heart attack when she was 53.

  • Mary Price suffered a stroke at age 51.

  • Paul Lucas claims he suffered a heart attack when he was 56.

  • Margaret Hughes claims she was 66-years-old when she suffered a heart attack.

  • Mae Bess Hale claims she suffered a stroke at the age of 71.

  • Kelvin Handy suffered a heart attack at 46.

  • Arhonda Hoffman suffered a stroke at 46.

  • David Green claims he suffered a stroke when he was 73.

    In Madison County:

  • Mary Hardin claims she suffered a stroke at the age of 78, alleging that Vioxx caused or significantly contributed to her stroke. Hardin also is seeking damages from her pharmacy, Walgreens.

  • Frank Schwaller filed suit on behalf of his deceased wife claiming her numerous health problems were caused or significantly contributed to be caused by Vioxx. Schwaller claims had his wife survived she would have been able to bring this action herself. He also is seeking damages from Walgreens.

  • Shirley Glasco is not only seeking damages from Merck, but Pfizer as well, claiming the heart attack she suffered at 66 was caused or significantly contributed to be caused by Vioxx, Bextra and Celebrex.

    The suits seek judgments for "a fair and just amount of actual damages in an amount to be proved at trial, costs of the suit, pre-judgment and post-judgment interest and punitive damages in a fair and reasonable amount to punish and deter Merck and others from engaging in conduct as alleged, and any other relief the court deems just and proper."

    Vioxx was pulled from the market in September 2004 because studies indicated it could contribute to heart ailments. On April 7, the Food and Drug Administration requested that Pfizer suspend sales of Bextra in the United States.

    The FDA also is requiring all manufacturers of prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs) arthritis medicines to provide additional information about cardiovascular and gastrointestinal risks.

    In addition, the agency ordered dozens of other prescription or nonprescription NSAIDs, including ibuprofen and Aleve, which all are pain relievers, to carry new tougher warnings about risks of heart problems and gastrointestinal bleeding.

    While Merck & Co. has made a habit of removing cases filed to federal court in order to combine the massive tort, federal Judge Patrick Murphy has been sending them back just as fast for lack of subject jurisdiction.

    “Merck’s conduct was done with conscious disregard for the safety of Vioxx users,” the complaints state.

    According to the complaints, Merck failed to effectively warn users and doctors that numerous other methods of pain relievers, including Ibuprofen, Naproxen and Mobic were safer. They also allege that Merck's conduct was done with conscious disregard for safety, justifying an award for punitive damages.

    The plaintiffs claim that at the time Vioxx was manufactured and sold to them, it was defective in design and unreasonably dangerous, subjecting them to risks of heart attack, strokes, and other illnesses which exceeded the benefits of the products when safer products were available.

    Vioxx is the brand name of rofecoxib, Bextra or valdecoxib is a class of drugs called prostaglandins which work to reduce inflammation and pain by providing analgesic and anti-inflammatory benefits to people who suffer from arthritis and muscle pain.

    Vioxx was introduced in the United States in 1999. Vioxx is a Cyclo-Oxygenase-2 (cox2) inhibitor and was used to treat arthritis and is in the class of drugs called NSAIDs.

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