Published: Fri, July 13, 2018
Medical | By Marta Holmes

Jury orders J&J to pay $4.7 billion in Missouri asbestos cancer case

Jury orders J&J to pay $4.7 billion in Missouri asbestos cancer case

A Missouri jury decided Thursday that the pharma and consumer goods giant should pay a whopping $4.69 billion-$550 million in compensatory damages and $4.14 billion in punitive damages-to 22 women who say J&J's talc-based products gave them ovarian cancer.

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

In a statement, he said: 'For over 40 years, Johnson & Johnson has covered up the evidence of asbestos in their products'.

During Wednesday's closings of the trial's first phase, plaintiffs' attorney Mark Lanier did not request a specific damage award but urged jurors to write their figures "in big letters". After attorneys fees, the state of Missouri takes a whopping 50% of punitive damage awards and keeps the money for itself under this state law, which appears to apply to this type of punitive damage award.

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"If J&J insists on continuing to sell talc, they should mark it with a serious warning", Lanier said.

J&J said it was "deeply disappointed in the verdict". J&J sought to protect the image of Baby Powder as "their sacred cow", he said.

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 prosecution also added that Johnson & Johnson used flawed testing methods.

The company has been fighting claims that talc powder is unsafe for years.

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"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", he said, calling for talc to be pulled from the market.

The women who sued, whose jobs range from school bus driver to executive director of a job-retraining program, come from states including Pennsylvania, California, Arizona and NY.

The company is reportedly still battling around 9,000 talc cases. "But sympathy aside, the plaintiffs have not come anywhere close to proving their case". Previous talc-cancer trials have focused on claims that the talc itself, rather than asbestos, causes ovarian cancer, or that asbestos in talc causes mesothelioma, a form of lung cancer.

J&J has successfully overturned talc verdicts in the past, with appeals courts pointing to a 2017 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that limits where personal injury lawsuits can be filed. This ruling was delivered by the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis.

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