Plaintiffs lawyers established a pretty abysmal trial record against Merck in the Vioxx mass tort. Of the roughly 19 cases that were tried, only five resulted in verdicts for the plaintiffs. Instead, it was the sheer volume of Vioxx claims — approximately 50,000 — that forced Merck into a $4.85 billion settlement in 2007.

Now the plaintiffs lawyers who did the lion’s share of the work in attaining that global settlement are being rewarded for their efforts. In a 38-page ruling (pdf) Tuesday, New Orleans federal district court Judge Eldon Fallon, who oversaw the Vioxx multidistrict litigation, awarded $315,250,000 to “all attorneys who performed common benefit work” in the MDL and associated state litigation. That amounts to 6.5 percent of the $4.85 billion settlement.