Merck gets another Vioxx verdict tossed
Texas appeals court overturns the jury verdict in the first Vioxx case to go to trial, finding "no evidence" that alleged victim Bob Ernst suffered a myocardial infarction triggered by a blood clot. "Accordingly, appellee failed to show that ingestion of Vioxx caused her husband's death," the court rules May 29. In 2005 the jury had awarded the plaintiff $253 million, which was later reduced to $26 million. The same appeals court reversed a $32 million jury verdict against Merck the previous week (1"The Pink Sheet," May 19, 2008, In Brief). Also on May 29, the New Jersey Appellate Division overturned the punitive damages and consumer fraud award in combined cases against Merck while letting stand a compensatory damages award for personal injury. As a result, about $13 million of the $18 million awarded in the McDarby and Cona cases has been overturned
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A Texas appellate court reversed a $32 million jury verdict against Merck, finding that there was insufficient evidence that Vioxx caused the heart attack of Leonel Garza Sr. The jury had awarded $7 million in compensatory damages and $25 million in punitive damages, the latter of which was reduced to $750,000. Juries have ruled in favor of Merck 12 times and in favor of plaintiffs five times. With the May 14 ruling reversing one of the five plaintiffs' wins, Merck may have more leverage in negotiating settlements of pending cases
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