If all goes according to plan, on Jan. 16, W. Mark Lanier will begin trying as many as nine Vioxx-related cases — at the same time — before New Jersey Superior Court Judge Carol Higbee.

In 2003, the New Jersey Supreme Court designated Higbee to manage what are now nearly 15,000 Vioxx cases filed against Merck & Co. Inc. in New Jersey.

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