[JURIST] The New Orleans-based federal judge charged with co-ordinating [JURIST report] the approximately 1800 pending federal lawsuits relating to the withdrawal of the painkiller Vioxx [JURIST news archive] from pharmacists' shelves last year has ruled that the first federal trial against Vioxx-manufacturer Merck will take place in Houston beginning November 28. US District Judge Eldon Fallon [official profile] evacuated to Houston earlier this month after Hurricane Katrina [JURIST news archive] devastated the New Orleans area. No ruling on the venue of subsequent federal trials has yet been made. Some 3200 other lawsuits are proceeding in parallel against Merck in various state and local courts; the second state trial against Merck started earlier this week [JURIST report]. Merck has said that it might settle some of the suits [JURIST report] but it has no plans to negotiate a comprehensive settlement [JURIST report] with litigants. AP has more.