Legal Ethics

Some Plaintiffs’ Lawyers Contest All-or-Nothing Vioxx Settlement

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Several plaintiffs’ lawyers are opposing a controversial provision in a $4.85 billion Vioxx settlement that requires them to recommend the deal to all of their clients if at least one participates.

In a motion filed Monday in New Orleans federal court, the lawyers say the requirement would prevent them from being able to offer the best advice to individual clients, possibly opening them up to future lawsuits, the New York Times reports.

The agreement requires lawyers to withdraw from representation of clients who do not agree to the settlement. Merck, the maker of the painkiller Vioxx, can withdraw from the settlement if 85 percent of the plaintiffs do not participate.

Fordham law professor Benjamin Zipursky told the Times the requirement for uniform advice could pose ethical concerns.

“The question is, Is this really independent advice given to each client if the lawyer obligates himself or herself to say this to all the clients?” he said.

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