Last year a jury awarded a Plaintiff 51 million dollars in damages against Merck because it’s Vioxx painkiller was blamed for the heart attack of a former FBI agent. As reported in the New York Times, Judge E. Fallon, who is a federal district judge in the District Court of New Orleans and is responsible for overseeing all Vioxx litigation in federal courts, had previously granted a new trial to Merck, but instead awarded 1.6 million dollars for the Plaintiff. The award that the Judge issued for the FBI agent includes $600,000 in compensatory damages and $1,000,000 in punitive damages. Merck had sought to have the entire verdict thrown out.
The Merck drug company manufactured a drug which was designed as a painkiller, and more specifically to combat arthritic conditions. Sadly, Merck placed this drug on the market without adequate testing, and also, without disclosing to the FDA that persons who took this drug on tests, had a higher incidence of heart attacks and strokes. Presently there are 27,000 lawsuits pending against Merck for claims of personal injury for this defective and hazardous drug.
In a related matter, a woman who blamed Vioxx as the cause of the heart attack that killed her husband, will be facing a third trial. Recenlty, the federal judge who oversees her case, ordered a third trial. The new trial is based on the fact that a cardiologist who had testified for Merck misrepresented his qualifications in the second trial which was held last year. Unfortunately, jurors in that trial had ruled in favor of Merck and against Mrs. Plunckett, whose first husband had died of a heart attack after taking Vioxx for less than a month. The first trial was held in Houston and had ended in a jury deadlock 8 to 1 in Merck’s favor.
At this juncture Merck is vigorously contesting the wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits that have been filed because Vioxx caused heart attacks and stokes to persons who unsuspectingly took their painkiller, Vioxx. Merck’s strategy at this point is to use their great wealth to outspend lawyers who represent the victims of this dangerous and defective drug.