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Lead Plaintiff Attorney Calls Ruling in Vioxx Case 'A Positive Development' for His Client and Others Suing Merck.

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif., Aug. 31 /PRNewswire/ -- In response to Merck's statement Wednesday that the company would seek a new trial on "all liability issues," Mark P. Robinson, Jr., lead plaintiff lawyer in the $51 million jury verdict against Merck, said a federal judge's ruling on compensatory damages, in fact, supports the jury's finding of liability and is a "positive development" for his client and others suing Merck.

"This is a significantly positive decision for all of those whose lives have been damaged or destroyed by Vioxx," said Robinson, of the Newport Beach, CA., law firm Robinson, Calcagnie & Robinson. "The judge ruled that the jury's findings -- that Merck negligently failed to warn and committed deceit-by-concealment with Vioxx -- were reasonable findings. Though the court ruled that the compensatory damages were excessive, the judge also said he was not troubled by the punitive damages award. Further, he is going to allow one jury to try both the compensatory and the punitive damages award again in a single trial. All of this taken together is a very positive development for those who are victims of Vioxx."

Robinson is lead counsel for former FBI special agent Gerald Barnett. A jury in New Orleans on Aug. 17 awarded the 62-year-old Barnett $50 million in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages. Barnett suffered a heart attack in 2002 after taking Vioxx continuously for approximately 55 months for pain from osteoarthritis.

Judge Eldon Fallon on Wednesday ruled the $50 million in compensatory damages was too high based on Barnett's health following the heart attack. But he supported the punitive award.

More specifically, the judge in making his ruling on damages reinforced the merits of the verdict against Merck. Judge Fallon wrote:

"The Court takes this opportunity to note that the jury's findings on liability are reasonable in this case. All three of Plaintiff's claims revolve around the safety risks of Vioxx, what Merck knew about any such risks, when Merck knew this information, and what Merck should have done about it. Considering all of the evidence in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff, the Court concludes that the jury's findings for the Plaintiff on his negligent failure-to-warn and deceit-by-concealment claims were reasonable."

CONTACT: Mark P. Robinson, Jr. of Robinson, Calcagnie & Robinson, +1-949-720-1288; or Robert G. Magnuson, +1-949-278-7515, for Robinson, Calcagnie & Robinson
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Publication:PR Newswire
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 31, 2006
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