In the Vioxx trial that began last week in New Orleans, it was Chicago defense lawyer Phil Beck who presented Merck's opening statement. Here's how a reporter for the Chicago Tribune described his style:
Beck comes across in the courtroom as careful and calming in his approach, giving explanations of complex drug industry research in words a sixth grade science class would understand. He also played to the all-male eight-member jury, countering the plaintiff counsel's depiction of Barnett as a physically fit 62-year-old who worked out regularly. Beck said all men have higher risks for heart attacks. And although he talked about what a nice couple Barnett and his wife were for being married for more than three decades, he pointed to Barnett's wife's smoking habit as a risk factor for her husband.
Here's part of Beck's opening, as reported by the Tribune:
[Barnett attorney Mark] Robinson talked to you for about 90 minutes and during that 90 minutes 200 people in the United States had heart attacks . . . most of them had heart attacks that were much more serious than the one that Mr. Barnett had.
Over 1.2 million people a year have heart attacks in America and that was true before Vioxx ever came on the market and it's true now that Vioxx has not been on the market for a couple of years.
This is Beck's second Vioxx trial. He won the first. You can read more about him in the Chicago Tribune profile, "Marchin' for Merck in New Orleans," by Bruce Japsen.