Patricia Schwaller did not die from Vioxx pills
The story of Patricia Schwaller is heartbreaking. According to her husband Frank, she took Vioxx for about 20 months for pain in her shoulders, and then died suddenly due to cardiac arrest in August of 2003. When Vioxx was recalled a year later, he suspected that the drug killed his wife since there is overwhelming evidence now that Vioxx increases the risk of cardiovascular complications.
In a scenario that we have seen in the lawsuits brought by Stewart Grossberg, Gary Albright, Anthony Dedrick, Elaine Doherty, Gary Smith, Charles Laron Ron Mason, and a few others, she had a family history of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure. The message is that if you are overweight or obese, you have a weak case against Merck. The company is exploiting this weakness in the cases of many victims.
It's not over yet. Frederick Mike Humeston, who lost his case the first time, eventually won $48 million compensation in the retrial - the company has made the same argument in his case. Merck faces as many as 27,000 lawsuits and only a few cases have been decided so far.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Merck must pay $48 million to Vioxx victim
Frederick Mike Humeston lost his first Vioxx trial since the company hid crucial and damaging evidence from the jurors. New Jersey Superior Court Judge Carol Higbee did the right thing by granting him a retrial. Last week, Humeston got a favorable decision in his case.
Merck has now been directed by a jury to pay as much as $47.5 million to Humeston and his wife - $20 million in compensatory and $27.5 million in punitive damages.
Now don't expect the company to simply write him a check right away. The company will do anything possible to deny him (and all other Vioxx victims who have won their cases) any compensation for his heart attack and suffering. "We disagree with today's jury's verdict," said Hope Freiwald of Dechert LLP, a member of Merck's defense team. "The last time a jury considering the Humeston case had a chance to hear all the evidence at one time it found that Merck acted responsibly." Merck has objected to the structure of the trial because of the potential for jury confusion and bias.
Friday, March 02, 2007
Merck loses Humeston Vioxx lawsuit
When twice-decorated, Vietnam-war veteran Frederick "Mike" Humeston lost his Vioxx lawsuit against Merck, everyone was shocked by Merck's ferocious attack. Thanks to the foresight and wisdom of New Jersey Superior Court Judge Carol Higbee who was very troubled by the discovery of highly incriminating documents, a retrial was granted to give him another chance for justice.
Now a jury in Atlantic City has done justice to him. In a a big slap on the face of Merck attorneys and executives, who have tried to argue that the company did nothing wrong, the jury has decided that the company committed fraud by knowingly hiding the dangers of Vioxx. The decision implies that if Merck cared for the lives and health of its customers, Humeston would have never suffered a heart attack and would still be a healthy man.
When he took Vioxx for his arthritic pain, he did not realize that it would lead to a heart attack. So when Merck recalled Vioxx after the death of as many as 60,000 Americans (and an unknown number of people worldwide), he sued. Instead of admitting its guilt, the company used every dirty trick it could find, every document that it could hide, and every lie that it could come up with to deny him any compensation.
The other lawsuit that was tried simultaneously with this case, and brought by the estate of Brian Hermans, went in Merck's favor.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Merck attorney Diane Sullivan misbehaves in Vioxx trial
Merck attorney Diane Sullivan has done it again. Her unprofessional behaviour in the first Humeston trial attracted the anger and reprimand from Superior Court Judge Carol Higbee. With the kind of rebuke that she received even a six-year old would have gotten the message; not Sullivan though it seems.
In a replay of her past behavior, she violated all the rules of behaving professionally in a court. "It is unprofessional, it is unethical, and it is contemptuous of this court," Judge Higbee said. She further accused Sullivan of deliberately violating the Judge's orders and vowed that she was "not going to deal with this kind of unprofessionalism." Ouch!
Oh, are things that bad at Merck that they can't hire a decent lawyer to represent them in the latest trial? Yes, they are. Hope Freiwald, another attorney on Merck's team, confirmed "We're going to continue to go forward with Diane as the lead counsel."