A Texas state jury Friday found Merck liable for the fatal heart attack of man who took its Vioxx painkiller. The decision marks the third Vioxx trial loss for Merck.
A jury of 10 men and two women in Rio Grande City, TX, awarded $7 million in compensatory damages to the widow and children of Leonel Garza, who died of a heart attack after taking Vioxx for less than a month. The jury also ruled that Merck acted with neglect and awarded the Garza family $25 million in punitive damages. Under Texas law, the punitive award will likely be reduced to $750,000.
Merck plans to appeal the verdict, defense counsel Richard Josephson told The Wall Street Journal. “I think, by objective standards, the case wasn’t close,” he said, calling the rural county from which the juror pool was selected a “very, very difficult jurisdiction.”