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Breaking: Merck wins reversal of Garza v. Merck Vioxx $32 million verdict

Per exactly the grounds I predicted, a Texas appellate court has reversed in its entirety the $32 million verdict/$7.75 million judgment in Garza v. Merck (Apr. 23, 2006; Apr. 21, 2006; Aug. 8, 2006 NY Sun op-ed), holding that the expert specific causation evidence was lacking under Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. Havner, 953 S.W.2d 706 (Tex. 1997). (Merck & Co. v. Garza (Tex. App. May 14, 2008) and WSJ via Beck). The Ernst oral arguments recently occurred, and one can expect a similar reversal there in the long run.

Garza was one of the plaintiffs intentionally omitted from the Vioxx settlement, so he will take nothing unless the Texas Supreme Court reverses, an unlikely scenario. (Even under the settlement, he would not have been eligible for more than a token $5000 payment, because of the lack of evidence of Vioxx usage.)

That said, the attorneys who brought this meritless, and likely fraudulent, case will likely suffer no disciplinary consequence for inflicting millions of dollars of legal expense upon Merck. It was the nuisance of these legal expenses that forced Merck shareholders to spend $4.85 billion to extract themselves from the meritless litigation.

More: Bloomberg; Reuters; WSJ Health Blog (which has inaccurate trial statistics); WSJ Law Blog.

As I previously noted, plaintiffs had won only 5 out of 32 Vioxx cases scheduled for trial; the Garza reversal reduces that number to 4 out of 32, with the likely promise that the other Texas plaintiffs' verdict will be thrown out as well.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.