A Southern District of New York judge has sanctioned a plaintiffs lawyer and reduced the jury award in one of the bellwether cases in the multidistrict litigation over the anti-osteoporosis drug Fosamax.
Judge John F. Keenan on Monday said the $8 million verdict returned by a jury in June in favor of plaintiff Shirley Boles was "excessive" and gave Boles the option of either getting a retrial on damages or taking $1.5 million. The first trial ended in a mistrial last year when the jury, who could be heard by the lawyers arguing loudly in the jury room, deadlocked 7-1.
Also, Boles' lawyer, Gary Douglas of Douglas & London, was sanctioned $2,500 by the judge for referencing another Fosamax trial after being told explicitly not to mention other cases and for his conduct during summation when he called the conduct of the drug's maker, Merck & Co., "reprehensible" and "disgusting." The judge said that "to allow this type of argument and conduct ... would be to countenance disorder in my courtroom, undermine the rule of law, and reward misbehavior. This was a trial, not a political campaign, and lawyers are supposed to follow the rules."
The case of Boles v. Merck & Co. Inc., 06-cv-09455, is one of hundreds in the multidistrict products liability litigation over the drug's side effects in In re: Fosamax Products Liability Litigation, 06-MD-1789.
Michael Ross, who defended Douglas on the sanctions, said, "The hundreds of judges whom Mr. Douglas has appeared before for more than two decades have seen a respectful and capable lawyer."
Paul F. Strain of Venable represented Merck.