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Jurors in Atlantic City assessed punitive damages of $27.5 million against Merck & Co. for marketing its painkiller Vioxx without properly warning of its significant cardiovascular risks. The punitive award came late on Monday, hours after the jury found that the drug and the failure to warn contributed to plaintiff Frederick Humeston’s heart attack, five months before Merck changed the product’s label and three years before the product was taken off the market. The jury awarded had awarded $18 million to Humeston, 61, for pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life, and $2 million to his wife Mary for “loss of society and services of her husband.” The damages verdicts came 10 days after the jury made a general finding that Merck misrepresented Vioxx’s risks while marketing it to doctors and suppressed information about the risks. In handing up the punitive damages verdict, the jurors called Merck’s conduct “malicious, oppressive and outrageous.” The specific bases for the award were not immediately known, but New Jersey’s punitive damages statute, N.J.S.A. 2A:15-5.10 et seq., allows jurors to consider:

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