Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Celebrate Merck Day

This tip comes from PharmaGossip.

In my ongoing one-day celebration of our drug companies, it is now time to celebrate Diane P. Sullivan, the dazzling blonde lawyer who defends Merck, and who just accused a little old lady for her own heart attack.

"For somebody like Mrs. Doherty, it's not whether you're going to have a heart attack, it's when," Ms. Sullivan said.

And when Ms. Sullivan speaks, juries listen, according her law firm website:

"Most recently, Ms. Sullivan served as lead trial lawyer and earned a major victory on behalf of Merck & Co. in the legal battle over Vioxx. In a case heard in the New Jersey Superior Court before Judge Carol E. Higbee, the second of thousands of suits filed against Merck to proceed to trial nationally, Ms. Sullivan convinced nine jurors to reject the plaintiff's failure to warn and consumer-fraud claims. This defense verdict was featured in The National Law Journal's "Top 10 Defense Wins in 2005" and is "a victory worth noting" according to InsideCounsel, who named it one of the "five verdicts of 2005 that are reshaping corporate defense strategies."

Read all about the most recent trial and the little lady who caused her own heart attack here.


Anonymous said...

An interesting strategy, especially when you take a look at Judge Higbee!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Great defense by Sullivan...sounds like a defense lawyer saying, "My client would not be here charged with murder if not for the reckless way the victim led his life. Had ne not been there, he would still be alive and therefore it is the victim's fault he was there when my client fired the weapon."

I've read some serious horror stories about how the company attornies go after the vitim constantly. Just like rape victims. "It was their fault they got raped because of the way they walked, talked, dressed, blinked, got out of the nauseum.

Anonymous said...

I had been taken an innocent supplement, Actonel, and became sicker and sicker. I had RA, but the tests came back positive for gout. My ankles balooned. With hip replacements, and fairly recent too, my symptom reverted to those before the replacements. I met another old lady, taking a similar supplement, who also had a year, or more, of mysterious complaints. So, I looked again at the package insert, and then decided to get advice from the arthritis foundation, mainly because I had so many referrals to all sorts of specialists, and did not know where I should go first. Solved all the problems. I am no longer taking Actonel. Moral of the story? Get all the info you can get your hands on first, before taking anything. Then, if you have strange symptoms try eliminating one thing you ingest at a time. Just like finding out about possible allergies. Of course, not without consulting your doctor.

Anonymous said...

"For somebody like Mrs. Doherty, it's not whether you're going to have a heart attack, it's when," Ms. Sullivan said.

We once laughed out loud when we heard reasoning like this. This reasoning works for tires and mechanical things. A human being is at risk here.
That was the issue. Someone failed to inform the jury if they bought "the tire was in the last 10% of its life and therefore is expected to fail!".
Weren't all Vioxx users high risk?
Or the Law firm managed to do an exceptional job of jury selection. Was this because the sharper defense team saw something that could be exploited,
while the prosecution did not? Could it just be ability? The Defense had more ability than the prosecution?
Like the OJ Simpson trial? The first Tyco trial managed to get one corrupted juror in the box.

Is Ms. Sullivan for real or a flash in the pan? Two ways to measure this.
(1) Validity-did she get the desired result?
(2) Reliability-can she do it time after time after time or enough times to be considered successfully?

There are three kinds of success stories that come to mind.
(Success Story 1)
The President Bush (43) kind where his charming, folksy "real-speak" convinces people of a logic that does not exist. Works almost every time. Very Reliable.
This has been around forever. The most famous case is Alexander the Great and the Gordian Knot. If you or I had applied Alexander's solution to the Gordian Knot we would have
died that day upside down over a slow fire, while parts of our body were removed and feed to us and the dogs.
(Success Story 2)
The Karl Rove hypnotic charm. The Dick Cheney "steel fist in a velvet glove" persuasion. You know it is sinister and from the "Dark Side" but you find yourself going along with it. It is not always fear. People are attracted to power. All good negotiators have this skill. It is very powerful. Very Valid and Reliable if the "Right" people are available.
(Success Story 3) The President John Kennedy, Bill Clinton "power of friendly persuasion". President Kennedy's did not work on politicians. Clinton's worked everywhere.
I would put Ms. Sullivan in "Success Story 1" for sure. Only time will tell about "Success Story 2". "Success Story 3" is not an option.

shooter said...

Well, here I go again. Before too long I'll be banned from this site too, as I was at HuffPo.
There'a reason for the word "alleged." Of course our sympathies automatically go out to the "victims." Until the case is abjudicated by a judge and/or jury, we really should use "alleged." Like everything else, these things are much more complicated and involved. Unless, of course, we believe all people who bring accusations against corporations are automatically honest, truthful, and incapable of hitching a ride for a piece of the "deep pockets." I believe, as most of you do, that many, many of these people were victims and should be compensated even more than they probably will be. But some may not warrant anything. Some may may have suffered through no fault of the corp. I mean, millions of people took these drugs, got the benefits they expected, and suffered no ill effects. Some may have been egged on by lawyers (we've all seen the ads) who are just rolling the dice and hoping for a sympathetic "jury nullification" of the facts.

On the flip side, remember the "dumb old lady who was so stupid she spilled McDonald's coffee onto herself while driving" and sued for millions? Boy, the right wing shills on Fox and radio, are still having a field day with that one! But if you had read the abbreviated transcript of the trial, as I did, you would get a 180 degree different picture. McDonald's purposefully served this coffee, not hot, but scalding, boiling hot. Hot far beyond what the health codes allowed. They did it because many customers using the drive-thru complained that by the time they got to their work places the coffee was not as hot as they liked. This resulted in many, many injuries and lawsuits. McDonalds paid out millions and millions of dollars, always with a confidentiality agreement of course, to these folks. They offered our "stupid old lady" a ton of money to just go away. But she had read the history, and felt it was her duty to not be quiet about it, as many more innocents would be injured. Dr. Rost, I'm sure, would tell you that Corporations are always conflicted between their accountants and their lawyers. They do a study and if the financial benefits outweigh the damage, they go ahead with the defective products. This was the case with McDonalds and probably, also with these Pharma Companies. If you had seen the medical testimony, the truly horrible pictures of the ( I don't remember what degree ) burns on her body, I think you would agree that no amount of money was enough. She was, I think you could say, a sort of heroic whistle blower, and not the manufactured portrayal of a greedy, clumsy old gold-digger.

In my lifetime career in sales, I would ask my salespeople, "How's such and such deal coming?" They would invariably say confidently, "No sweat, boss...99% in the bag." Well, over 40 years, that missing 1% never found home.

I guess my long wind-bagged point is, sometimes there are two sides to a story. If the Corps. are found guilty, I will be the first to "string'em up."
But as intelligent people, we should trust the system. And please, I know that there have been many miscarriages of justice, but thankfully, for the most part, juries do take their jobs seriously.

Peter Rost said...

Shooter, you ain't getting banned from this site.

shooter said...


For those of you who can't hear thru your screens, that was a giant exhale of relief.