Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Vioxx Trial halted while Court allows "surprise witness" to be deposed

The trial was put on hold on July 26, 2005 as attorneys in the first Vioxx-related civil trial on took the deposition of the coroner who conducted the autopsy of the man who died of an irregular heartbeat eight months after starting to take Vioxx. The doctor: Maria Araneta, M.D.

Merck's attorneys asked state District Judge Ben Hardin to postpone her testimony to question Araneta via depositon. The deposition was completed Tuesday afternoon, but Hardin had yet to decide if Araneta's testimony would be presented to the jury.

Lanier did not have Dr. Araneta on a witness list by the pretrial deadline, and Merck's legal team held Lanier to pretrial rules against springing such a witness in arguing for the deposition.

Lanier said Araneta intended to testify that Ernst died too quickly for his heart to show damage and that he likely died of a heart attack.

My comment: Perhaps this is too critical, but how does the Plaintiff's attorney not list as a potential witness the doctor who performed the autopsy? Did he really think that the doctor would be allowed to testify without any type of exam? Isn't it risky that the defendant could have merely sought to exclude the testimony? I would have listed her at a minimum.