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.