Taking the side of investors who are suing Merck for securities fraud, the Obama Administration filed an amicus brief last month arguing that the plaintiffs did not wait too long to file their complaints against the drug manufacturer. use. The painkiller drug was taken off the market in 2004. However, investors are accusing the company of misrepresenting how safe Vioxx was for use.
Investors are suing Merck for billions. They claim that they ended up paying inflated prices for Merck stock because the drug maker downplayed clinical trial test results that appeared to link Vioxx with a greater risk of heart attack. The investors filed one of several securities fraud lawsuits in 2003. At issue in the US Supreme Court case is whether investors should have realized sooner that fraud might have occurred.
Merck claims that investors should have filed their complaints earlier since by late 2001 there was already a lot of information out there alluding to possible misstatements by Merck about Vioxx. Merck has said it acted properly and in a timely manner when it did tell the scientific community and the US Food and Drug Administration about the Vioxx-related info.
The amicus brief, filed by U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan, is another indicator that the Obama administration may be more supportive than the Bush Administration of investor lawsuits. According to Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas Founder and Stockbroker Fraud Attorney William Shepherd, “It is an oddity to see our government take a legal position on behalf of investors! This may be the first time in a decade that I have seen an official legal position that is contrary to the vested position of Wall Street.”
Kagan says that the investment fraud lawsuits were filed in a timely manner because the plaintiffs did not know and could not have known about Merck’s alleged Securities Exchange Act Section 10(b) violations more than two year before they filed the complaints. She wants the Supreme Court to affirm the appeals court’s ruling that the shareholder complaint was timely. Per federal law, plaintiffs must file their securities fraud complaint within two years after finding out about the violation.
Related Web Resources:
Obama Sides With Investors in Merck Lawsuit, SmartMoney, October 26, 2009
U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Merck Appeal on Reinstated Investor Lawsuit, Insurance Journal, May 27, 2009
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