Chess clocks keep lawyers in check

2/27/2006 – Why didn't someone think of it sooner? Determined to keep a trial short, lawyers in a Vioxx trial are using chess clocks to limit the time they spend arguing each side of a case. Time controls are at around 40 hours. "Lawyers are like gas. We fill up whatever room we're provided," said one of the participating attorneys. They may have found a cure.

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Determined to keep it short, lawyers for Merck & Co. and two men suing the painkiller's manufacturer have agreed to time limits on testimony and will use tabletop clocks, activated manually, each time one side or the other puts a witness on the stand, to keep track.

When the trial begins March 6, lawyers for plaintiffs Thomas Cona and John McDarby will have 40 hours to present their cases, not including opening statements and closing arguments. Lawyers for Merck will get 35.

The idea is to accelerate the battles in the massive legal war over Vioxx, an arthritis drug pulled off the market in 2004 after being linked to heart attacks and strokes with long-term use.

More than 9,650 suits have been filed in state and federal courts by former Vioxx users or their survivors, who blame the drug and say its Whitehouse Station, N.J.,-based manufacturer should be held accountable.

Full story:

ABC News: Time Limits Planned for Next Vioxx Trial


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