St. Louis, Missouri, USA: Healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay $4.7 billion to 22 women and their families who say asbestos in the company’s talcum powder contributed to their ovarian cancer and that the company failed to warn about the cancer risks.
The St. Louis Circuit Court jury awarded $4.14 billion in punitive damages and $550 million in compensatory damages to the plaintiffs, who said the company failed to warn about the cancer risks.
But, Johnson & Johnson said it is deeply disappointed in the verdict, and it remains confident that its products do not contain asbestos and do not cause ovarian cancer and intends to pursue all available appellate remedies.
Lanier Law Firm said that a jury has awarded $4.7 billion to 22 women and their families who alleged that decades of daily use of Johnson & Johnson’s asbestos-laden talcum powder products caused their ovarian cancer.
Lanier Law Firm stated that the six-man, six-woman jury in Judge Rex M. Burlison’s 22nd Judicial Circuit Court in St. Louis heard six weeks of testimony and deliberated eight hours before returning the verdict. The jury award includes $550 million in compensatory damages and $4.14 billion in punitive damages against the company.
While there have been other trials in which juries have determined that talc products contained asbestos and caused mesothelioma cancer, this case marks the first talc/asbestos-induced ovarian cancer verdict in the United States. Jurors heard evidence that Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products have been laced with asbestos for decades, in spite of the representations J&J made to the FDA and others.
Responding to the Verdict in St. Louis Trial, Johnson & Johnson said that it is deeply disappointed in the verdict, which was the product of a fundamentally unfair process that allowed plaintiffs to present a group of 22 women, most of whom had no connection to Missouri, in a single case all alleging that they developed ovarian cancer. The result of the verdict, which awarded the exact same amounts to all plaintiffs irrespective of their individual facts, and differences in applicable law, reflects that the evidence in the case was simply overwhelmed by the prejudice of this type of proceeding.
Johnson & Johnson said it remains confident that its products do not contain asbestos and do not cause ovarian cancer and intends to pursue all available appellate remedies. Every verdict against Johnson & Johnson in this court that has gone through the appeals process has been reversed and the multiple errors present in this trial were worse than those in the prior trials which have been reversed.
The science linking Johnson & Johnson’s products to cancer is mixed. The American Cancer Society said: “There is very little evidence at this time that any other forms of cancer are linked with consumer use of talcum powder.”
Asbestos was found in the ovarian tissue of several of the women in this case. Nationwide, Johnson & Johnson is fighting around 9,000 other talc cases.
According to the National Cancer Institute, claims that talc used for feminine hygiene purposes can be absorbed by the reproductive system and cause inflammation in the ovaries are not supported by ‘the weight of evidence.
Last year, a judge threw out a similar case against Johnson & Johnson involving a $417 million jury award. At the time, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Maren Nelson granted the company a new trial, saying there were errors and jury misconduct in the original trial.
JNJ closed Thursday’s regular trading at $127.76, up $1.52 or 1.20 percent. But, in the after-hours trading the stock dropped $3.11 or 2.43 percent.
Shares of Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) have climbed well off their worst levels of the day but remain in negative territory in late-day trading on Friday. Johnson & Johnson is currently down by 1.4 percent after ending the previous session at its best closing level in over two months.
Johnson & Johnson initially came under pressure after the healthcare giant was ordered to pay a record $4.7 billion to 22 women who claimed its talc-based products caused them to develop ovarian cancer.