A federal judge in Newark has dismissed a lawsuit from two law firms claiming they were shortchanged on fees after referring a plaintiff to the Vioxx securities multidistrict litigation that settled for $1.06 billion in 2015.

The Whitehead Law Firm of Lafayette, Louisiana, and Goforth Lewis & Sanford of Houston claimed they had a fee-sharing deal with New York’s Stull, Stull & Brody when the firms teamed up on securities litigation against Merck & Co. But the court said such an agreement would violate New Jersey ethics rules, and that the plaintiffs failed to show any contract existed.

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