Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Merck Ordered to Disclose Vioxx Lawyers' Fees

Here's an interesting one.  In the New Jersey Vioxx litigation, Judge Higbee ordered Merck to disclose its attorneys' fees in the joint Cona/McDarby trial, according to this story by Theresa Agovino (AP) in BusinessWeek Online -- Judge Orders Merck to Reveal Trial Cost.

The order apparently grew out of a dispute over fee-shifting.  Plaintiffs submitted a request for fees as prevailing parties under the consumer fraud statute, and when Merck objected to the size of the request, plaintiffs asked Merck how much it spent on the case, presumably to show that the plaintiffs' fees were not unreasonable in comparison to the defendant's fees:

Judge Carol Higbee's order stems from a request from plaintiffs' lawyers that Merck pay their legal fees and expenses of roughly $5.6 million for a trial that combined the cases of two men who suffered heart attacks while taking Vioxx. The jury found that Merck committed consumer fraud in its marketing of Vioxx, and that finding allows plaintiffs firms to ask for legal fees.

But Merck balked at the expense level, prompting plaintiffs lawyers to ask how much Merck spent on the trial.

According to the article, Merck disagrees with the decision and its lawyers are "exploring their options."


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