Quoted from http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601202&sid=a.sNhdoD7Hcg
Merck Won’t Face Punitive Damages in Fosamax Trial
By Thom Weidlich and Margaret Cronin Fisk
July 29 (Bloomberg) -- Merck & Co., facing more than 850 lawsuits over claims that its osteoporosis drug Fosamax may cause irreversible “jaw rot,” won’t face punitive damages in the first trial, a federal judge said.
U.S. District Judge John Keenan said at a hearing today in New York that he’ll release a decision as early as July 31 knocking out the possibility of punitive damages in the case. He’ll deny Merck’s request to rule in its favor on liability, which means the case will go to trial Aug. 11, he said.
“I am not granting summary judgment on anything else,” Keenan said.
Keenan has scheduled three so-called bellwether trials through January to show each side the other’s strategy and possibly point the way to settlements. The judge earlier denied the plaintiffs’ request to treat the litigation as a class, or group, lawsuit allowing them to ask for court-ordered medical monitoring of all Fosamax users.
The Fosamax patients claim Merck misrepresented the drug’s safety and failed to warn doctors and patients that it might hamper blood flow to the jaw, causing jawbone-tissue death and leading to partial removal in some patients. Jawbone tissue death is called osteonecrosis of the jaw, or ONJ. Merck, based in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, has denied that Fosamax causes deterioration of the jawbone.