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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Judge Orders Merck to Reveal Trial Cost,: "Judge Orders Merck to Reveal Trial Cost,

� 2006 The Associated Press
NEW YORK � A N.J. judge ordered Merck & Co. on Tuesday to release records on how much it spent on a trial involving its Vioxx painkiller.
The information would provide a window into how much Merck spends on its trials, and what its legal defense costs could be in the future. More than 21,000 suits have been filed against Merck, which has vowed to try each case over Vioxx.
So far, Merck has reserved $970 million for legal costs and spent $285 million of that last year.
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.
Kent Jarrell, a spokesman for Merck's outside attorneys, said the company's lawyers disagreed with the judge's decision and that they were exploring their options. He said that what defense lawyers spend has no relation to plaintiff lawyers' expenses.
Jarrell added that since the order was made as part of the discovery process, Merck couldn't appeal.
Jarrell also said the lawyers spent the bulk of their time on litigating the issue of whether Vioxx caused the men's heart attacks, not the consumer fraud issue. The jury found that Vioxx caused one plaintiff's heart attack, but not the other's.
Jarrell said the attorneys were only entitled to fees derived from the consumer fraud portion of the "


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