Subscribe Subscribe   Find us on Twitter Follow POL on Twitter  



Texas Appellate Court Reverses Garza Vioxx Ruling

A Texas intermediate appeals court has vacated its May 14 decision, which had dismissed a $7.75 million judgment against Merck & Co. Inc. in favor of Felicia Garza. Ms. Garza had alleged that her 71-year-old husband had sufferred a fatal heart attack in 2001 because he took Vioxx. Ted Frank had commented on the May JNOV on this forum.

The 4th Court of Appeals has remanded for a new trial on two grounds. First, it found juror misconduct because one juror had received a loan from Ms. Garza, and had not disclosed it. That juror had voted with the 10-2 majority in rendering a verdict against Merck -- so it's hard to see how this error harmed the losing plaintiff. More damaging to defendant, however, is a second ground for the new trial -- the Court of Appeals found that its prior holding that Leonel Garza's pre-existing heart problems could not be ruled out as the cause of his death was of no legal consequence. Writing for a three-judge panel, Justice Sandee Bryan Marion concluded that "after reviewing the evidence and considering the appropriate standard of review for a legal sufficiency challenge, we conclude the plaintiffs carried their burden of presenting legally sufficient evidence to support a finding of specific causation." The panel also held that the Garzas' evidence was legally sufficient to support their claim that Merck failed to provide sufficient warning to doctors that Vioxx increased the risk of heart attacks and strokes. The court reiterated its May ruling in Merck's favor on design defect grounds. Given the findings on causation and on failure to warn, it's hard to see how the new trial could be about anything but damages (corrupted because of the juror misconduct). Merck will obviously appeal this to the Texas Supremes.

The Texas Lawyer account of the reversal can be found here.

Related Entries:



Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.