Monday, March 12, 2007

Vioxx verdict: $20 million for Humeston

In the retrial of Mike Humeston's Vioxx lawsuit against Merck, the jury this morning awarded $20 million in compensatory damages.  Here's an excerpt from Linda Johnson's AP story in the Houston Chronicle -- Vioxx Jury Awards $20M to Idaho Couple:

Merck & Co.'s painkiller Vioxx contributed to the heart attack of an Idaho postal worker, a state jury in Atlantic City ruled Monday. The jury awarded Frederick "Mike" Humeston and his wife $20 million in compensatory damages.

The verdict at the end of the eight-week trial means Merck has now won nine cases and lost five in the mushrooming litigation over its former blockbuster arthritis pill.

Humeston, 61, of Boise, Idaho, suffered a heart attack in September 2001, several months before Merck _ under pressure from federal regulators _ put a stronger warning about the cardiovascular risks of Vioxx on the drug's detailed package insert.

Humeston, a decorated veteran, had taken Vioxx intermittently for about two months for knee pain from a Vietnam War shrapnel wound.

The five-man, three-woman jury ruled on March 2 that Merck was negligent and did not provide adequate warning about those risks prior to Humeston's heart attack. That set the stage for a second phase of the trial, with the jury last week hearing evidence on whether Vioxx contributed to Humeston's heart attack, entitling him to damages.

The jurors awarded Humeston $18 million in compensatory damages and gave another $2 million to his wife, Mary.

New Jersey Judge Carol Higbee established a phased trial structure for this joint trial, which now moves to the punitive damages phase.


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