1. Merck, a major pharmaceutical company, produced a popular painkiller called Vioxx. Despite the drug being approved by the FDA, several studies linked usage of it to cardiovascular risks relating to heart attacks and strokes. Internal e-mails indicated that, for approximately four years, the company was aware that academics and others had concerns over the drug’s safety. Finally Merck voluntarily discontinued distribution of Vioxx. Several lawsuits were then brought by the families of those who had suffered heart attacks after taking the drug. Will the lawsuits against Merck be successful?
2. From the early 1950s until his death from smoking- related lung cancer in 1997, Williams smoked cigarettes, primarily the Marlboro brand, eventually developing a habit of three packs a day. At that point, he spent half his waking hours smoking and was highly addicted to tobacco, both physiologically and psychologically. Although, at the urging of his wife and children, he made several attempts to stop smoking, each time he failed, in part because of his addiction. When his family told him that cigarettes were dangerous to his health, he replied that the cigarette companies would not sell them if they were as dangerous as his family claimed. When one of his sons tried to get him to read articles about the dangers of smoking, he responded by finding published assertions that cigarette smoking was not dangerous. However, when Williams learned that he had inoperable lung cancer, he felt betrayed, stating, “Those darn cigarette people finally did it. They were lying all the time.” He died about six months after his diagnosis. Williams’s widow sued, demanding both compensatory and punitive damages, claiming that the manufacturer of the cigarettes was responsible for her husband’s death. Is Williams’s widow likely to be successful in her lawsuit?
3. Grimshaw, a 13-year-old girl, was a passenger in a Ford Pinto driven by a neighbor. The Pinto stalled and, while motionless, was hit from behind by another car. Moments later, the Pinto’s fuel tank exploded, with the result that the driver was killed and Grimshaw was burned over 90 percent of her body. Grimshaw’s family sued Ford Motor Company, claiming that Ford was negligent in designing the Pinto so that the fuel tank was in a dangerous position, with “conscious disregard of public safety.” The jury awarded the family of the driver $ 666,000 and Grimshaw $ 2,841,000 as compensation for her injuries. In addition, the jury awarded Grimshaw another $ 125,000,000 as punitive damages (that is, to punish Ford). Ford appealed the decision. Will the decision of the jury be upheld?