Merck, the maker of Vioxx, pulled the arthritis medication from the market in 2004 when a study linked the drug to fatal heart attacks in patients who took it for more than 18 months. Mr. Garza took Vioxx for 17 days. Garza was 71 years old when he died in 2001, had a history of smoking, suffered a prior heart attack in 1981 and had quadruple bypass surgery in 1985.
The decision was handed down by a jury in Rio Grande City in a region of Texas notorious for favoring plaintiffs.
"Many courts in other counties would toss this case because of the standard that no reasonable juror could find for the plaintiff in this situation," said Victor Schwartz, counsel to the American Tort Reform Association. "It's been our experience that many of the courts in the Rio Grande Valley are very, very friendly to plaintiffs' counsel and let cases go forward."$32 million? What a country!
The ATRA named the overwhelmingly Mexican-American region at the bottom of Texas Rio Grande Valley the nation's top "judicial hellhole" for 2005, a distinction it gives to places where judges uphold "extraordinary" jury awards and seem to favor plaintiffs over defendants.