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IN BRIEF/ COURTS

Merck Given Access to Juror's Records

September 23, 2006|From the Associated Press

A judge granted Merck & Co. attorneys access to bank and cellphone records that could show the extent of a juror's financial relationship with a plaintiff who won a $32-million verdict in the death of a man who took the painkiller Vioxx.

Juror Jose Manuel Rios, who earns $22,000 a year as a school janitor, testified in a post-trial deposition to borrowing as much as $10,000 interest-free from widow Felicia Garza, the plaintiff in the lawsuit against Merck. He said the loans included $2,500 that was paid off just weeks before jury selection in the case.

He and other jurors in April found Merck liable for 71-year-old Leonel Garza's fatal heart attack.

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