Friday, May 30, 2008
Article in the Houston Chronicle -- Court tosses Vioxx award: Houston panel rules plaintiff will get none of the $26 million, by Mary Flood. Here's an excerpt in which I'm quoted:
A Houston appellate court Thursday overturned a $26 million Angleton jury finding that a 59-year-old triathlete died because of his use of the popular painkiller Vioxx.
The 14th Texas Court of Appeals ruled that Bob Ernst's widow, Carol Ernst, should receive nothing because the more than one month of testimony in the nation's first Vioxx trial contained insufficient evidence to prove the drug caused his heart problem and death.
The ruling on the 2005 trial came the same day a New Jersey court struck down most of a 2006 jury verdict against Vioxx maker Merck & Co.
Earlier this month, an appellate court in San Antonio overturned a $32 million jury award to a widow in South Texas who claimed her husband died of a heart attack because of Vioxx.
Los Angeles-based Southwestern Law School professor Byron Stier, who writes about cases like the Vioxx suits, said that though these big cases are all different, Merck's success with trying many cases and keeping the damage contained will be a lesson to others.
Merck saved about $40 million in damages and attorneys fees in just these two decisions Thursday.
"A mass tort that could have bankrupted Merck has become manageable," Stier said.
AmLaw Daily has a related post, Mark Lanier's Faith Tested: He Loses Two Vioxx Appeals in One Day, by Andrew Longstreth. Here's a roundup of media coverage from the Wall Street Journal Health Blog.