$550M awarded in lawsuit linking cancer, baby powder

Maricruz Casares
Julio 13, 2018

United States pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson was on Thursday ordered to pay out $4.69 billion in damages in a lawsuit representing 22 women and their families who alleged a talc sold by the company contained asbestos and caused them to suffer cancer. Ingham v. Johnson & Johnson, 1522-CC10417. "Let them read it without putting on their glasses".

The St Louis city court verdict is the 6th largest product defect award in United States history, ordering $4.14 billion in punitive damages, on top of the $500 million created to compensate the 22 women and their families.

The punitive damages are among the largest ever awarded in a product liability case, he said.

"This was a new theory and the jury lined up behind it", Jean Eggen, a Widener University law professor who teaches about mass-tort cases told Bloomberg."That may be a harbinger of things to come and there are many more ovarian cancer cases than asbestos cases tied to the powder".

"Yes, this is awful", Bicks said of the women's cancer.

Bottles of Johnson & Johnson baby powder line a drugstore shelf in New York October 15, 2015. The watchdog did not find asbestos contamination.

The company "remains confident that its products do not contain asbestos and do not cause ovarian cancer and intends to pursue all available appellate remedies", it said in a statement.

J&J faces lawsuits from customers who say they were harmed by both its talc and transvaginal mesh products. One plaintiff is undergoing chemotherapy and was too ill to attend, Mr Lanier said. The court will decide where that money goes, but they have not yet determined the fate of that $4.14 billion.

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The verdict is the largest J&J has faced to date over allegations that its talc-based products cause cancer.

J&J is also fighting a separate battle with plaintiffs who blame the company's talc products for their developing mesothelioma, a form of cancer generally found in the lungs, that is linked to asbestos exposure.

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. The asbestos cases are part of more than 9,000 claims facing J&J alleging its talc products cause cancer. The company denies its products contain asbestos or that its powder causes cancer.

The plaintiffs' lawyers said asbestos fibers and talc particles were found in the ovarian tissues of numerous women.

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

But several other settlements have been affirmed with more cases pending.

Johnson & Johnson spokeswoman Carol Goodrich said in a statement that the company was disappointed with yesterday's verdict but would not comment further until the punitive damages are announced. This ruling was delivered by the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis.

Watch the trial on demand.

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