New Jersey justices reject appeal in Vioxx case

Kathy Woods Sep. 30, 2009, 9:29pm

TRENTON, NJ. (Legal Newsline)-The New Jersey Supreme Court has denied an appeal by Merck and upheld the $4.5 million award to the widow of a man who had a heart attack and died as a result of using the drug Vioxx.

This was the last unresolved case involving Vioxx. In this case, the jury found that Merck and Co. failed to ward John McDarby of the cardiac risks of the drug.

McDarby was originally awarded $13.9 million but some of the punitive damages, consumer fraud and attorney's fees were overturned.

Jerry Kristal, one of the attorneys for the McDarby's said: "Although we are thrilled to finally see this measure of justice for the McDarby family we are saddened by the fact that Mr. McDarby did not survive the delays in the appellate process."

Merck removed the product in September 2004 after a study showed that it more than doubled the risk of heart attack or stroke.

After using the drug McDarby suffered a heart attack in 2004 and died in 2007 of heart related complications.

Merck had appealed the compensatory part of the award to the New Jersey Supreme Court which granted the company certification. But when the U.S. Supreme Court case of Wyeth v. Levine was settled, the New Jersey Supreme Court found that the certification should not have been granted to Merck.

As a result, the justices fully affirmed the Appellate Division decision of compensatory verdict of $4.5 million.

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