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Merck Overturns $32 Million Vioxx Award

Posted by Jane Akre
Thursday, May 15, 2008 9:54 AM EST
Category: None
Tags: Defective Drugs, FDA and OPrescription Drugs, Defective and Dangerous Products, Vioxx, Wrongful Death

Merck lawyers have overturned a $32 million vioxx award.


IMAGE SOURCE:© iStockPhoto/ gavel/ davex83


It was a huge judgment - $32 million awarded to the widow of 71-year-old Leonel Garza after he suffered a fatal heart attack.

Wednesday, Merck & Co, won a reversal of that award arguing that Garza’s condition was probably pre-existing unrelated to his taking of the painkiller, Vioxx.

An appeals court in Texas said that Garza’s wife did not prove that her husband’s “preexisting heart condition” didn’t cause his heart attack in 2001.

In the 2006, a Rio Grande City, Texas jury found in favor of the Garza’s estate determining that drug maker Merck did not warn doctors of the risks of Vioxx.

Garza had been taking the drug for less than a month when he had a heart attack, the second one of his life.   

The jury awarded $32 million, $25 million of it punitive. But a Texas judge cut that amount down to $8.73 million because there is a Texas state cap on punitive damages.

Today’s ruling by a three-judge panel of the Texas 4th Appellate Court wiped out even that award.

Last November, Merck agreed to pay $4.85 billion to settle about 27,000 lawsuits filed by people or their survivors who said that Vioxx caused their heart attacks and strokes.

Vioxx was pulled from the market in 2004.

Lawyers for Mrs. Garza are hoping that a higher court will see that Vioxx did not have to be the sole cause of Mr. Garza’s heart attack, as they say the Texas law allows.

Up until this point, Merck had lost five Vioxx cases and won a dozen.

Today's decision reaffirms that there is simply no reliable scientific evidence that Vioxx caused Mr. Garza's heart attack,'' Ted Mayer, Merck's outside counsel with New York-based law firm Hughes Hubbard & Reed, said in a statement. #

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