Texas Supreme Court Finds for Merck in VIOXX Case
WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J., Aug. 26, 2011 – Merck, known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, said today that the Texas Supreme Court overturned a judgment in favor of the family of Leonel Garza Sr. in a suit alleging that VIOXX caused Mr. Garza’s death.
The San Antonio Court of Appeals had previously overturned the verdict due to jury misconduct and ordered a new trial. The Texas Supreme Court found that the evidence did not support the plaintiffs therefore ordered final judgment in favor of Merck.
In today’s opinion, Justice Nathan L. Hecht wrote for the court: "we . . . hold that the Garzas did not present reliable evidence of general causation and are therefore not entitled to recover against Merck."
“Today's decision reaffirms that there is simply no reliable scientific evidence that VIOXX caused the plaintiff's heart attack,” said Ted Mayer of Hughes Hubbard & Reed, outside counsel for Merck.
The Texas Court of Appeals had reversed the jury's verdict and ordered a retrial. The jury's original verdict on April 21, 2006 included $7 million in compensatory damages and $25 million in punitive damages. On Dec. 21, 2006, the punitive award was reduced to $750,000 in compliance with Texas statutory caps.
During the trial, Merck was represented by Richard L. Josephson and Travis J. Sales of Baker Botts L.L.P., Houston, Texas. Merck's lead appellate counsel is Baker Botts partner Stephen G. Tipps.
On Nov. 9, 2007, Merck announced that it had entered into an agreement to resolve myocardial infarction and stroke claims filed as of that date in the United States. The $4.85 billion program established by the agreement resolved more than 99.9 percent of eligible claims in the United States. The Garza case was excluded from the program.
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