An Early Thought About the Vioxx Verdict

I believe that the next trial is in New Jersey next month (plaintiff had an MI; he survived) followed by a trial in federal court in New Orleans in November.

The wonderful thing about this verdict for the rest of the cases is that before trial the plaintiff was not expected to win. Merck thought they had a strong causation case and, as I pointed out in the past, historically the plaintiff loses the first few cases of this type.

Obviously, it would be a mistake to assume that Merck will lay down in these cases given this one defeat. The venue is considered pro-plaintiff, although insiders have indicated that they did not thing that the jury itself was not particularly pro-plaintiff as jury selection ended. In addition, the case was tried by a fantastic lawyer – that obviously makes a difference. Hopefully, Mark Lanier will be invited to try the next few cases.

It would be a mistake to assume that every person who took Vioxx has a personal injury case. The same criteria for case acceptance must apply. This verdict tells us only that the liability issue and the general causation issue can be won; it does not tell us that causation can be proved in every case. And, yes, it tells us that a jury can get angry about what Merck did.

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