A jury in a U.S. federal court found that pharmaceuticals company Merck & co. was responsible for the death of a man who took the companyâ€™s Vioxx painkiller drug.
The suit was originally filed in South Carolina, where Gerald Barnett, a retired FBI agent, died of a heart attack soon after taking Vioxx.
The jury found that Merck was liable because it knowingly misrepresented or failed to disclose information about Vioxx to the plaintiffâ€™s doctors.
The jury ordered that Merck must pay $50 million in compensatory damage and $1 million in punitive damage.
â€œMerck acted in wanton, malicious, wilful or reckless disregard for Mr. Barnettâ€™s rights,â€ said the jury.
The tally for the firm stands at five wins and four loses for the Vioxx product liability cases. Currently it still had some 14,000 lawsuits involving about 27,000 plaintiffs, in federal and state courts. The company withdrew the drug from the market in 2004 after studies indicated that Vioxx contributed to heart attacks.
More suits were expected to be filed as the deadline for such litigation expired soon. Nothing has been allocated for liability but a legal fund of $1 billion had been set up by the firm to combat each case individually.