Recently, a federal jury held Vioxx-maker, Merck, liable for the heart-attack of a retired FBI agent. The jury ordered that Merck pay $50 million in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitives.
The judge in that case has ordered a new trial to determine the damages, finding that the jury's award was excessive.
Now, unless the FBI agent suffered a huge medical bill, or had some other job that he was working, this is probably accurate. Compensatory damages are supposed to compensate for the losses suffered as a result of the wrong doing or it is usually put "to make whole" the plaintiff.
However, I'm curious to know what happens when the case gets retried on the damages issue to see how the judge reacts to punitives if the jury reverses the numbers. Especially since the jury found that Merck "acted in wanton, malicious, willful or reckless disregard for the plaintiff's rights."