Drugmaker Merck & Co. on Tuesday won the first trial over withdrawn painkiller Vioxx brought by a state trying to recoup what it paid for residents to take the drug, arguing it wouldn’t have been covered had its risks been better known.

U.S. District Court Judge Eldon Fallon in New Orleans ruled for Whitehouse Station, N.J.-based Merck in a 2005 case brought by the Louisiana attorney general’s office, one of more than a dozen such government lawsuits.