Merck loses first Vioxx lawsuit – Aug. 19, 2005

Merck loses first Vioxx lawsuit – Aug. 19, 2005.

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) – Merck has been held liable by a Texas jury in the first lawsuit involving its former blockbuster drug Vioxx, in a case that could have a profound effect on thousands of other cases filed against the company.

Plaintiff Carol Ernst has won her lawsuit in Texas Superior Court, which blames Vioxx for the 2001 death of her husband, Robert Ernst, a 59-year-old marathon runner and Wal-Mart worker who was taking the arthritis painkiller at the time of his death. Ernst died of a heart attack.

The verdict held Merck liable for the death.

The jury awarded more than $250 million in total damages — a $24 million penalty to Carol Ernst for mental anguish and loss of companionship and $229 million in punitive damages.

Ernst’s Houston-based lawyer, Mark Lanier, was seeking $40.4 million in damages and after the verdict said he expected the punitive damages award to be reduced according to Texas law.

After the verdict, Merck said it would appeal the jury’s finding.

Update: commentary from Dr. Lowe
Aggrivated DocSurg
Point of Law discusses Texas Damage Caps.
Galen’s Log


  1. While Angleton may not be on an official “Judicial Hell Hole” list, some pretty big jury awards have come out of there. There was obviously some forum shopping going on.

    By the way, the CNN article called it the “Superior Court.” In Texas it would have been the District Court.

  2. I’d love to click on your advertisements and bring you a little more green, but they’re all for personal injury lawyers. I’d vomit on my keyboard. I’d rather see the ads for ‘Fishy vaginal odor’ that were up a couple weeks ago.

  3. Yeah, I noticed that. It started right after I put up this entry. I’m not clicking on them, either.

    But I don’t want the FVO ad back, either.