Texas Vioxx ruling stands

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The Texas judge who reduced the $32 million awarded to a plaintiff in a Vioxx case yesterday has also rejected Merck's request to reverse the jury's decision that Vioxx caused the plaintiff's heart attack, The Wall Street Journal reported.

In April, a Rio Grande City, Texas, jury awarded Felicia Garza and her sons $32 million after finding Merck liable for the death of Leonel Garza.

In the months following the verdict, a woman not connected to the trial came forward and said that she had witnessed Mrs. Garza exchanging money with juror Jose Manuel Rios. In depositions, Rios said that he had borrowed thousands of dollars from Mrs. Garza over the years, but didn't have any outstanding debts at the time of the trial. Merck conducted post-trial discovery in the matter and after reviewing bank and phone records found there were more than a dozen calls between Rios's phone and Mrs. Garza during the case.

Travis Sales, a Merck defense attorney said, “Obviously, we had hoped the judge would enter a judgment in Merck's favor.” Sales said Merck will file a motion for a new trial within 30 days, based on the undisclosed relationship between plaintiff and juror.

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