$4.69 billion verdict against Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder

13 July, 2018, 19:38 | Author: Sherman Richardson

A jury in the U.S. state of Missouri has awarded $4.7 billion in total damages to 22 women and their families after they claimed asbestos in Johnson & Johnson (J&J) talcum powder contributed to their ovarian cancer.

The award of $4.14 billion in punitive damages on top of the $550 million meant to compensate each of 22 women and their families for their losses sent the company's shares down by as much as 3.3 percent in German trading.

Mark Lanier, the Houston-based lawyer for the plaintiffs, presented jurors with internal company documents revealing Johnson & Johnson knew of the asbestos in its products and failed to warn consumers.

In the six week trial, the women and their families said they developed ovarian cancer after using baby powder and other talc products for decades.

Jurors announced the award for compensatory damages Thursday in a lawsuit that included 22 plaintiffs. "If J&J insists on continuing to sell talc, they should mark it with a serious warning".

J&J says it will appeal the latest verdict, which it argues is "the product of a fundamentally unfair process".

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Bottles of Johnson & Johnson baby powder line a drugstore shelf in New York October 15, 2015. The accusations of suppressing or ignoring tests didn't make sense, said Peter Bicks, the company's trial counsel. Johnson & Johnson claimed that their products were safe, and refuted allegations that the powder contained asbestos.

A state trial court jury on Thursday handed up a $4.69 billion verdict against Johnson & Johnson.

The plaintiffs said using the talc for personal hygiene had caused ovarian cancer. The watchdog did not find asbestos contamination.

The women in the St Louis trial, whose jobs range from school bus driver to executive director of a job retraining programme, come from states across the country, including Pennsylvania, California, Arizona and NY. CNBC reports that J&J is embroiled in thousands of court cases over its talc powder.

The majority of the lawsuits that J&J faces involve claims that talc itself caused ovarian cancer, but a smaller number of cases allege that contaminated talc caused mesothelioma, a tissue cancer closely linked to asbestos exposure. Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in damages, and has fought them all in appeal. "But sympathy aside, the plaintiffs have not come anywhere close to proving their case". The company has faced legal challenges on the same issue before, which it is still appealing or contesting. This ruling was delivered by the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis. No asbestos was found in any of the talc samples, the agency said.

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