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

Via Alexey Novikov

Shares of Johnson & Johnson were sliding Friday morning, down 2.68%, the day after a St. Louis jury awarded $4.69 billion to the 22 women who said its talcum baby powder gave them ovarian cancer.

Plaintiffs' lawyer Mark Lanier told the jurors during closing arguments on Wednesday that this case was the first where jurors saw documents showing that Johnson & Johnson knew its products contained asbestos and didn't warn consumers, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Johnson & Johnson said in a statement it "is deeply disappointed" and "remains confident that its products do not contain asbestos and do not cause ovarian cancer".

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".

The jury has yet to decide on punitive damages. On Thursday, Lanier highlighted results he said showed asbestos both in talc mines and the baby powder itself. J&J sought to protect the image of Baby Powder as "their sacred cow", he said.

More than 9,000 lawsuits have been filed against Johnson & Johnson due to allegations of health problems caused by asbestos in its talcum powder products.

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


Johnson & Johnson denied any contamination with asbestos or any rigged testing. The company agreed to pay at least US$5-million to settle the claims, according to two persons familiar with the matter.

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.

The company has, since then, been sued by thousands of women and in August 2017, it was ordered by a Los Angeles jury to pay damages of United States dollars 417 million to a hospital receptionist, who developed ovarian cancer after using Johnson's Baby Powder for decades.

The women and their families said decades-long use of baby powder and other cosmetic talc products caused their diseases.

The company now faces about 9,000 talc-cancer cases in state and federal court, according to published reports, with the bulk of state court cases in Missouri, New Jersey, and California, according to J&J's May 2018 quarterly report. No asbestos was found in any of the talc samples, the agency said. Several other legal challenges by J&J are pending. Plus, many appeals courts cut back punitive damages awards on appeal. This ruling was delivered by the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis.

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