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A Texas jury today found pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co. liable for the death of a man who took the once-popular painkiller Vioxx.

Jurors awarded Robert Ernst’s widow, Carol, $253.4 million in damages, which is a combination of his lost pay as a Wal-Mart produce manager, mental anguish, loss of companionship and punitive damages. In Texas, punitive damages are capped at twice the amount of economic damages — lost pay — and up to $750,000 on top of noneconomic damages, which comprise mental anguish and loss of companionship.

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