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On Monday, we used our little blog to link to an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal.
We’re sure the Journal noticed the huge spike in traffic.
Today, we’re doing the same favor for the New York Times. Today’s Times reports that plaintiffs’ lawyers have filed a motion to amend the Vioxx settlement. Plaintiffs’ counsel want to be permitted to recommend that some, but not all, of their clients accept the settlement.
We don’t have much to add to what’s already been written.
The original settlement agreement seemingly requires participating plaintiffs’ counsel to advise all of their clients to accept the settlement; counsel must withdraw from representing any clients who reject it. Ethicists have suggested that this may pose a problem, because the participating lawyers would not be giving individualized advice tailored to the interest of each particular client. (This item at Point of Law links in turn to others speaking to the ethics issue.) Plaintiffs’ counsel now seek to change the settlement agreement to give them more flexibility and to avoid charges of unethical conduct.
More flexibility, however, would let plaintiffs’ counsel cherry-pick which clients would accept the settlement and which would reject it. That would predictably mean that plaintiffs with weaker cases would take Merck’s money, but plaintiffs with stronger cases would reject the settlement and continue their lawsuits against Merck. That would be bad news for Merck, which is trying to buy near-global peace.
There’s surely more to come on this front; keep your eye on the issue.
Oh, yeah: New York Times — no need to thank us for this plug. We’re happy to do what we can to support the faltering print media.