Verdicts & Settlements

$4.85B Vioxx Settlement to End Merck’s $600M Annual Legal Fees

Merck has agreed to settle 27,000 lawsuits over its pain medication Vioxx for $4.85 billion.

The settlement is one of the largest ever in a civil suit, the New York Times reports. Merck had pledged never to settle, the Wall Street Journal reports (sub. req.), but its legal defense fees alone were running $600 million a year. It has spent a total of $1.2 billion on the litigation so far.

The settlement is binding only if 85 percent of the plaintiffs agree to it. The average recovery will be $100,000 before legal fees and expenses.

The deal was expected to be announced today in a New Orleans federal court.

Merck was ordered to pay a huge $253.5 million in an August 2005 verdict on behalf of a man who died while taking the medication. The amount was automatically reduced to $26.1 million under Texas law. The company won 11 cases and lost four others. The New Jersey Supreme Court had refused to approve a nationwide class action against the company that advocated a “fraud on the market” theory.

Untitled Document

We welcome your comments, but please adhere to our comment policy and the ABA Code of Conduct.

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.