The jury adjourned at 8 pm without yet reaching a verdict. "To award punitive damages, the jury must decide whether Merck knowingly withheld from the FDA data regarding Vioxx's cardiovascular risks or misrepresented that data, that the information was material and relevant to the harm in question, and that Merck acted with a willful and wanton disregard of someone's rights." Mark Lanier, the attorney for Cona, who wasn't eligible for punitive damages, made the closing argument, asking for as much as $17.9 billion. The jury can award any amount, but New Jersey law will cap the award at quintuple the "compensatory" damages of $4.5 million. Merck made a total of $56 million of profit selling Vioxx in New Jersey, and all of that will be swallowed by attorney fees even before any damages are awarded. (Peter Loftus, Dow Jones Newswires, Apr. 10).
No punitive damages verdict yet in McDarby
Center for Legal Policy at the