What do you get when you cross Court TV with the Food Channel? A recipe for a multi-million dollar jury verdict.

Drug giant Merck will not see such television programming, but it may have seen stars after getting hit with a $253-million jury award on Aug. 19. A product liability trial against its Cox-2 inhibitor drug Vioxx in Angleton, Texas, resulted in the quarter-billion dollar award, $229 million of which was for punitive damages.

Merck plans a vigorous appeal on multiple grounds and even pro-plaintiff observers concede that the award likely will drop to "only" $26 million, due to recent Texas tort reform caps on punitive damages.

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