Does Vioxx Settlement Raise Ethical Issues?

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Does Vioxx Settlement Raise Ethical Issues? The article pulled from the Wall Street Journal discusses a topic that most would see as a violation of relevant ethical rules. Under the settlement plan announced in November, Merck agreed to compensate plaintiffs who can show, under certain conditions, that they had a heart attack or stroke connected with taking Vioxx. The deal was negotiated between Merck and six plaintiff’s lawyers from around the country. Plaintiffs’ lawyers estimate that, depending on various age and risk factors, settlement payments will average above $200,000. (That’s before attorneys’ fees, expenses and liens from Medicaid and Medicare.) The issue at hand is that in the Vioxx litigation, the settlement puts forward that if a lawyer has one client participate in the $4.85 billion settlement, then the lawyer must recommend the settlement to all of his or her other clients, according to Merck’s counsel. The problem with this is that if a client of the lawyer is not interested in this settlement, then the lawyer has to “take steps” to withdraw from representing this client. This withdrawal must happen without violating relevant ethical rules. Rule number 3 of the relevant ethical rules states that a lawyer cannot engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation (Rule 8.4( C )). The fact that some lawyers are abandoning some clients in disagreement with the settlement can be seen as deceit and misrepresentation. They originally took on the client with the intentions of fighting the case to the end and not settling for a standard settlement. The client now needs to find another lawyer to represent them and this can be time consuming when starting a case completely from scratch. Merck’s settlement offer carries a provision that aims to pressure as many people as possible to settle now, and to keep lawyers from

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