Johnson & Johnson told to pay nearly $4.7 billion in baby powder lawsuit

Johnson & Johnson to pay $4.7bn damages in talc cancer case

Johnson & Johnson to pay $4.7bn damages in talc cancer case

Bottles of Johnson & Johnson baby powder line a drugstore shelf in New York October 15, 2015.

Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay $4.7 billion in damages to 22 women with ovarian cancer who alleged that they contracted the ailment after using the company's talc products. The company's shares dropped in after-hours trading.

The jury has initially awarded $550 million in compensation and added $4.1 billion in punitive damages. Bloomberg reported that the award was the sixth-largest products liability award in USA history. Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in damages, and has fought them all in appeal. The women claim that either the talc caused ovarian cancer or that the product's talc led to mesothelioma.

The company is battling some 9,000 talc cases.

After falling almost 3 percent in pre-market trading, shares of the company were lately down almost 1 percent. It said it meant to appeal.

Mark Lanier, lead counsel for the women, six of whom have died from ovarian cancer, said that Johnson & Johnson had covered up evidence of asbestos in its products for more than 40 years. Goodrich predicted the verdict would be reversed.

"Every verdict against Johnson & Johnson in this court that has gone through the appeals process has been reversed and the multiple errors present in this trial were worse than those in the prior trials which have been reversed", the company said.

Lanier told the jurors 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 Post-Dispatch reported.

J&J sought to protect the image of Baby Powder as "their sacred cow", he said.

The victims' lawyer, Mark Lanier, said they had used the talc for personal hygiene. However, the prosecution in this case argued that J&J and the FDA's tests were flawed. The company, which has successfully overturned previous cases, denies its talc products contain asbestos that caused ovarian cancer and plans to appeal the case.

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

After a brief punitive phase Thursday afternoon, jurors deliberated for about 30 minutes before handing down their $4.14 billion punitive award.

The case is Ingham v. Johnson & Johnson, 1522-CC10417, Circuit Court, City of St. Louis, Missouri. J&J sold the product to Valeant Pharmaceuticals International 2012. The company has faced legal challenges on the same issue before, which it is still appealing or contesting.

"The evidence in the case was simply overwhelmed by the prejudice of this type of proceeding". Valeant now faces suits over the body powder. Five plaintiffs were from Missouri, with others from Arizona, New York, North Dakota, California, Georgia, the Carolinas and Texas.

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