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


The jury has initially awarded $550 million in compensation and added $4.1 billion in punitive damages.

Aside from ovarian cancer lawsuits, jurors have hit the company with verdicts in mesothelioma cases in recent months as well.

"Some (of the plaintiffs) are truly on their death bed and fighting for every day of their lives, and several of them came back for the jury verdict and were hugging the necks of those jurors", said Lanier.

Mr Lanier said Johnson & Johnson had spent 40 years covering up evidence of asbestos in some of its talcum-based products and should mark those products with warning labels or focus on powders made with cornstarch. This was the first trial to argue that talc in baby powder contains cancer-causing asbestos.

In a statement, it described the trial as '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'.

While the more than US$4 billion punitive-damage verdict will grab the headlines, the jury's decision that asbestos in J&J's Baby Powder caused the women's ovarian cancer may be a bigger, long-term concern, said Jean Eggen, a Widener University law professor who teaches about mass-tort cases.

To place the size of Thursday's verdict in perspective, the award would equal about 6.1% of the multi-national company's roughly $76.5 billion in 2017 reported revenue.

Six of the women have died; nearly all of the rest, along with friends and relatives, were in the courtroom Thursday.

'The company should pull talc from the market before causing further anguish, harm, and death from a bad disease'.

The company faces around 9,000 of these cases.

Although J&J has fought suits blaming cancer on its iconic baby powder in the past, investors haven't reacted to courtroom losses.

As per the report, the company released a statement saying it is confident that its products do not contain asbestos and hence does not contribute to ovarian cancer in any way.

The claims rest on the fact that talc, a clay mineral, is often found in deposits alongside asbestos ore, which definitely is a cancer risk.

They said they later developed ovarian cancer.

Asbestos is a carcinogen that sometimes appears in natural talc but was stripped from commercial talc products in the 1970s, according to the American Cancer Society. However, there are questions about whether asbestos-free talc, which is the form used in modern products, poses a similar risk, according to the association.

The latest case, called Ingham v. Johnson & Johnson and named for plaintiff Gail Lucille Ingham, was the first to claim that plaintiffs were heavily exposed to asbestos through years of dusting powder on their babies or themselves-and that this led them to contract ovarian cancer. Several other cases have involved sizeable damages, including a $417 million verdict reached by jurors in Los Angeles County Superior Court past year.