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December 07, 2004

Merck Defense Team not Exactly Small

Amid the many suits that have been brought due to its Vioxx product, Merck & Co. is in the process of building an expansive legal infrastructure.

In an effort to avoid being stuck with liabilities that some say could reach $18 million, Merck has already hired a handful of lawfirms.  This has come as a surprise to some as the company highly values its privacy, usually choosing to use its in-house lawyers.

Hughes Hubbard & Reed, a 300-lawyer New York law firm has been retained as the company's national counsel in the Vioxx suits.  Reed Smith, Baker Botts, Dechert, and Venable have also been hired according to court documents.  Merck could pay up to $100 million to these law firms in 2005 for litigation related to Vioxx, with as muc has $20 to $50 million going to the lead counsel.  Although Hughes Hubbard & Reed look to be in the driver's seat right now for that lead counsel position, analysts warn that the makeup of Merck's legal team will likely change when all is said and done.  Regardless of any changes, one thing is clear, Merck will not be suffering from a shortage of lawyers any time soon.

Posted by Matt Rutlin at 09:03 AM in Corporations | Permalink


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