There were fireworks in the courtroom this morning as Superior Court Judge Carol Higbee came down hard on Merck’s legal team for trying to get around court rules on testimony.

The day before, the plaintiff’s attorney, Chris Seeger, made a motion to strike some testimony from Merck’s lead witness, Briggs Morrison, a vice president for research. Seeger argued Morrison went too far in discussing the results of certain Vioxx studies, since he was not sworn in as an expert witness.

In issuing her ruling on the motion this morning, the normally mild-mannered judge turned red-faced. She said she stayed in her chambers late last night to review transpcripts of the testimony and relevant case law, and came to the conclusion Merck’s legal team allowed Morrison to go too far in his testimony.

“Morrison was to testify what Merck knew and didn’t know about Vioxx, and what he meant by an e-mail he wrote. But it went way beyond that,” Higbee said.

The judge continued, “I felt sick yesterday afternoon and sick last night. … I feel I was misled repeatedly yesterday during that testimony. And because I was misled, I allowed in things I shouldn’t have let in.”

“It doesn’t make me angry; it makes me sad.”

Higbee continued lecturing Merck’s lawyers, saying, “It’s not a free-for-all—you don’t just get to throw anything you want in the pot. … There has to be fair dealings.”

In the end, she struck from the record all of Morrison’s testimony and said he was not allowed to return to the stand.

In response, Merck lawyer Diane Sullivan stood up to protest the judge’s remarks, calling them unfair. At least five times, Higbee ordered Sullivan to sit down.



We're here to help!

We live by our creed of "helping those who need it most" and have helped thousands of clients get the justice they desperately needed and deserved. If you feel you have a case or just have questions please contact us for a free consultation. There is no risk and no fees unless we win for you.

Fields marked    may be required for submission.
  1. I'm an attorney

Merck to pay $830 million to settle investors’ Vioxx...

Merck announced Friday it will pay $830 million to settle investor complaints accusing it of committing...

Merck to pay nearly $1 billion for illegal marketing...

American pharmaceutical company Merck, Sharp & Dohme has agreed to pay $950 million to resolve criminal...

Merck paying more than 3,100 vioxx death claims

Merck & Co. is paying claims by the families of more than 3,100 users of its Vioxx painkiller who...

Settlement limits insurers' claims in Vioxx deal

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- Former Vioxx users getting part of a $4.85 billion settlement ending most personal...

Persistence pays in Vioxx litigation

Plaintiffs get close to $5B, but Merck could have done a lot worse. Attorneys who spent nearly one year...

Vioxx settlement payments to begin in August

Merck & Co., manufacturer of Vioxx, announced it will make the first payment of $500 million on Aug....

Best firm by far

Our case was handled with the utmost integrity and professionalism. If I could give them 10 stars, I would. This is the best legal firm I have ever dealt with by far.

—Pat