Vioxx Verdict: Widow Awarded $250 Million in Vioxx Death Suit

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. (All Things Considered, 8/10/05)