In a big victory for Merck the defense team pulled out an 8-1 verdict for Merck in the second major Vioxx trial today. As usual the best onsite reporting is provided by The Wall Street Journal, as this case is being closely watched by institutional investors all over the world who are major stock holders of Merck stock.
More detailed analysis later today and tomorrow after we make some phone calls and do some interviews with observers and those close to the Vioxx litigation.
Quick analysis is as follows:
1. Merck desperately needed this win, and the defense team led by Attorney Dianne Sullivan presented an impassioned defense of the company that will no doubt boost her position on this and other mass tort cases above her already highly regarded status as a defense attorney. If they had lost it would have been a crushing blow to Merck.
2. The Humeston case had some flaws that were pounded home by the defense, despite an otherwise excellent job by Attorney Chris Seeger. The defense did a good job of painting Humeston as someone with a long history of cardiac issues and stress and raised sufficient doubt over the impact of Vioxx on the heart attack he had. Not necessarily fair or accurate, but obviously effective, and who said life was fair.
3. This raises the profile and leverage of the "gang of ten" who will now go their own direction and see what they are able to do against Merck. Forcing Merck to fight on multiple fronts is crucial now to the plaintiff strategy.
4. Settlement of this case is much further off in the distance. Focus turns to the Federal case on November 28th.