Monday, November 13, 2006
Merck has abandoned some of its objections to a fee request by plaintiffs in order to avoid disclosing its own legal fees in a Vioxx trial. As we discussed here on October 18, prevailing plaintiffs are entitled to seek fees under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act. When Merck objected to the size of plaintiffs' $5.6 million fee request in the Cona and McDarby case, plaintiffs demanded to know how much Merck had spent on the same trial. Judge Higbee ordered Merck to disclose the information, at which point Merck reported that it would explore its options. Apparently the option of disclosing its own defense legal fees was less appealing than the option of paying plaintiffs' fees. Here's a clip from a Nov. 10 Boston Globe article by Theresa Agovino (AP) -- Merck drops some objections to request:
Merck & Co. agreed to drop some of its objections to plaintiff lawyers' request for fees in a Vioxx case, but only if it doesn't have to disclose its own legal fees to a judge.
Plaintiff lawyer Ellen Relkin said Merck dropped some of its objections because it fears a N.J. judge may publicly disclose what it spent on a trial that ended earlier this year. Merck lawyer Ted Mayer said the drugmaker's legal fees have no relation to the plaintiff lawyers' request and that companies always want to be careful when asked to reveal such sensitive information.