Friday, 16 November, 2018

Johnson & Johnson ordered to pay $4.7bn in talc powder claim

Via Alexey Novikov Via Alexey Novikov
Anna Jefferson | 13 July, 2018, 19:40

After 8 hours of deliberations Thursday, a St. Louis jury awarded $4.62 billion to 22 women who sued pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson alleging their ovarian cancer was caused by using its powder as a part of their daily feminine hygiene routine.

The jury's award was the sixth-largest product-defect award in USA history, consisting of $550 million in compensatory damages and $4.14 billion in punitive damages. The amount marks the largest jury award in the USA in 2018, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, and the sixth-largest jury verdict in a product-defect claim in United States history.

'We hope this verdict will get the attention of the J&J board and that it will lead them to better inform the medical community and the public about the connection between asbestos, talc, and ovarian cancer'. "More research is needed to work out what role, if any, talc use plays in ovarian cancer".

The shares of the New Brunswick, New Jersey-based company dropped 1.4 per cent in late trading after closing at USUS$127.76 in NY. It said it meant to appeal. Deane Berg had used the company's baby talcum powder for more than 40 years and discovered she had developed ovarian cancer in 2006. Goodrich predicted the verdict would be reversed.

The prosecution argued that Johnson & Johnson were aware that its talc is contaminated with asbestos since 1970s but did not warn their customers about the risks involved.

J&J sought to protect the image of Baby Powder as "their sacred cow", he said. On Thursday, Lanier highlighted results he said showed asbestos both in talc mines and the baby powder itself. If a test showed the presence of asbestos J&J sent it to a lab the company knew would produce different results, he told the jurors.

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The women's legal team claimed that Johnson & Johnson's Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products have been laced with cancer-causing asbestos "for decades".

"This was a new theory and the jury lined up behind it", Eggen said.

Six of the 22 women are now deceased and one more was too ill to attend the trial; the courtroom was filled with the remaining plaintiffs and their families and friends.

Johnson & Johnson vehemently denies that their product is unsafe and vowed to appeal the verdict.

Several similar trials have already taken place, with a Los Angeles appeals court last October dismissing a $417 million verdict against J&J, saying the complainant's arguments were insufficient and vague. Valeant now faces suits over the body powder.

"The evidence in the case was simply overwhelmed by the prejudice of this type of proceeding". Five plaintiffs were from Missouri, with others from states that include Arizona, New York, North Dakota, California, Georgia, the Carolinas and Texas. Six of the women have died, so their families are pressing wrongful-death claims against Johnson & Johnson.

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