Friday, November 04, 2005

Texas paper's article on Vioxx Trial #2

From the Houston

Among other things, the article notes:

This lawyer didn't make marketing and Merck's deceptions on science the center of the case," said Lanier, whose client in August won the $253 million wrongful death suit against Merck after a jury blamed Vioxx for the death of her husband. "And that was a mistake because that's the most compelling part."

Lanier said the lawyer instead chose to focus too much on medical problems experienced by the plaintiff.

"I think first you have to educate the jury about the drug, what Merck knew, when Merck knew it, what Merck did with its knowledge," Lanier said.

A majority of the jurors in the Angleton trial said Merck's aggressive marketing of Vioxx led to their decision to award Lanier's client, Carol Ernst.

Lanier is scheduled in January to begin yet another Vioxx trial, this time in New Jersey, where he will employ that strategy. He said Thursday's decision won't help Merck in appealing the Ernst case.

"Texans are fiercely independent," he said. "We don't have appellate judges that are going to change their minds because of what some unknown jurors did in Atlantic City, N.J."

One thing most legal experts agree on is that Merck's victory Thursday staves off the flood of new Vioxx filings that would have followed a finding against the drugmaker. Personal-injury cases against large corporations are usually done on a contingency-fee basis, in which a lawyer collects a percentage of any award. If the case is lost, the attorney doesn't get paid and has to eat any upfront costs, such as fees for court filings, expert witnesses and hotels.

A veteran New Jersey personal-injury lawyer who was close to the Humeston case estimated Seeger's firm spent $4 million to $5 million to prepare for and conduct the seven-week trial.

Chronicle reporter John C. Roper and the Associated Press contributed to this story.
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