Merck lawyers are seeking bank and cell phone records that may shed more light on a juror’s financial relationship with a Texas plaintiff who was awarded $32 million against Merck for death of a 71-year-old man who took Vioxx. One juror apparently borrowed $10,000 interest free from the decedent’s widow (the plaintiff in the Vioxx case). The juror said the loans included $2,500 that was paid off just weeks before he was selected as a juror in the case. The juror also produced cell phone records that showed calls by him to the plaintiff.
Last month, I wrote a couple of blog posts (click here and here) deriding the defendant doctor’s medical malpractice lawyers for going after jurors financial disclosures and prior claims history after an adverse verdict. But this is completely different. A loan and telephone calls to the plaintiff just after he was selected for jury duty, these are the classic juror misconduct issues. Even a mere acquittance with the plaintiff is something that should be revealed during the voir dire practice. Regrettably, if these allegations hold up, I will agree with the trial judge if he choses to void the judgment against Merck and declare a mistrial.