Widow Awarded $250 Million in Vioxx Death Suit

A Texas jury finds pharmaceutical giant Merck liable for the death of a man who took the painkiller Vioxx. The suit, one of thousands against the drug maker, was filed by the widow of a man who died of an irregular heart rhythm after taking Vioxx for less than a year.

In its findings, the jury awarded Carol Ernst more than $250 million — $24 million in penalties for anguish and loss of companionship and $229 million in punitive damages. Robert Ernst was a 59-year-old running enthusiast when he died of a heart attack in 2001.

The company is weighing plans to appeal the decision. The award totals may be reduced by Texas state laws that cap jury award amounts.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.