Vioxx Lawsuit

  Lawyers Represent People Harmed by Vioxx

Our Client Awarded $51 Million in Damages at Trial

vioxx lawsuit

August 18, 2006—A New Orleans jury awarded our Vioxx client, Mr. Gerald Barnett, $51 million in damages. The jury found that Merck, the drug's manufacturer, "acted in wanton, malicious, willful or reckless disregard" for Mr. Barnett's rights.

Mr. Barnett, a retired FBI agent, underwent quadruple heart bypass surgery after a heart attack at the age of 58. He took Vioxx for 31 months before his heart attack in July 2002, and continued to take it for another two years. He discontinued it just one week before Merck pulled it from the market in September 2004, following release of a study that showed an increased risk of heart attack and strokes by Vioxx users.

Lead trial counsel, Mark Robinson, is working with O'Steen & Harrison to assist a number of seriously injured Vioxx users.


Vioxx Jury Begins Deliberations in Second Vioxx Trial


November 1, 2005—The jury in the second Vioxx lawsuit to reach trial began deliberations after hearing seven weeks of testimony about the drug's risks. The jury must answer whether Merck failed to warn of known risks and determine if Vioxx caused the heart attack of a 60-year old postal worker.

Jurors also will consider whether Merck committed consumer fraud in marketing of the drug by providing physicians with misleading information or omitting known facts about Vioxx risks.

Merck currently is facing about 7,000 lawsuits brought against the company over the withdrawn painkiller. Only of those cases has reached a verdict, with a Texas jury awarding $253 million to the family of a man who died after using Vioxx. That award was reduced substantially under Texas law.


Texas Jury Returns Verdict in Favor of Widow

August 19, 2005—A Texas jury found Merck responsible for the death of a man who had been taking Vioxx. The former marathon runner died of a heart attack in 2001.

The jury awarded $253 million in damages to the family, including $229 million in punitive damages. The jury reached the $229 million figure after learning Merck calculated it would make an additional $229 million in revenues by delaying labeling changes warning patients about heart risks. The FDA had fought with Merck for months to get the company to warn of suspected cardiovascular risks, a warning that Merck did not want placed on the drug.

The punitive damages award will be automatically reduced under Texas law to a verdict only about 10% the size of what the jury awarded. Merck already has announced it will appeal this verdict.


Vioxx Lawsuit Proceedings Begin in New Orleans


March 18, 2005—Pre-trial hearings commenced in New Orleans for cases proceeding in federal court. Under procedural rules for Multi-District Litigation (MDL), all lawsuits filed in federal court have been consolidated for pre-trial discovery before the Honorable Eldon E. Fallon.

As of March 9, 2005, more than 1,300 lawsuits had been filed against Merck for injuries caused by Vioxx. Of those cases, 127 are now before Judge Fallon and another 400 are likely to be transferred to that court in the near future.

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Vioxx Timeline

May 1999
Vioxx is approved by the FDA.

March 2000
Study finds Vioxx patients had double the rate of serious cardiovascular problems compared to those taking naproxen.

February 2001
FDA advisory panel recommends warning label noting possible link to heart attacks and strokes.

September 2001
The FDA warns Merck for misleading claims about the safety of the drug.

April 2002
FDA requests that Merck add a warning on the label about cardiovascular problems.

August 2004
FDA announces results of a study that found Vioxx users were more likely to suffer a heart attack or sudden cardiac death than those taking Celebrex.

September 2004
Merck & Co. withdraws Vioxx.

March 2005
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana begins pretrial proceedings for those people pursuing their Vioxx lawsuit in federal court.

August 2005
Texas jury returns a verdict in favor of family of man who died after taking Vioxx. The jury found Merck negligent in the death of the man.

August 2006
New Orleans jury returns a $51 million verdict in favor of Gerald Barnett. Mr. Barnett, a retired FBI agent, was represented by O'Steen & Harrison and Mark Robinson.

November 2007
Merck announces a global settlement to resolve claims pending in U.S. courts for $4.85 billion.

Vioxx News

Vioxx Cases Near Trial on West Coast • The National Law Journal • March 27, 2006

Legal Strategy for Vioxx to Test Merck • The Washington Post • January 27, 2006

Judge Declares Mistrial in Federal Vioxx Case • MSNBC • December 12, 2005

More Vioxx News Stories