Johnson & Johnson ordered to pay $4.7bn in talc cancer lawsuit


This isn't the first time that J&J has squared off against customers who claimed they developed cancer from using its products: Just a year ago, a California court ordered it to pay a record $417 million to a woman who claimed she developed terminal ovarian cancer from talc-based products.

Thursday's massive verdict, handed down in the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis, was comprised of $550 million in compensatory damages and $4.14 billion in punitive damages, according to an online broadcast of the trial by Courtroom View Network. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports this case differed from five previous lawsuits against the company because it focused on claims that asbestos allegedly found in the baby powder caused the cancer.

The plaintiff's lawyers said asbestos fibers were found in the ovarian tissues of numerous women and introduced evidence that explained how asbestos is intermingled with the mineral talc - the primary ingredient in Johnson's "Baby Powder" and "Shower to Shower" products.

Asbestos is a carcinogen that sometimes appears in natural talc but was stripped from commercial talc products in the 1970s, according to the American Cancer Society. Lawyers allege asbestos fibers and talc particles had been found in the ovarian tissues of numerous women they represent.

'The company should pull talc from the market before causing further anguish, harm, and death from a bad disease'. "With all of this independent testing, there's some massive conspiracy going on at Johnson & Johnson to expose babies to asbestos?"

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The plaintiff's lawyers claimed that the asbestos fibers, used in the talc, entered the womens' bodies as they had been using the product for decades.

Companies also have been using asbestos-free talc in its products since 1970.

He said the $4.14 billion in punitive damages was derived from a formula that included the annual revenue from baby powder ($70 million) along with the number of years talc has been an issue.

The result, "which awarded the exact same amounts to all plaintiffs irrespective of their individual facts, and differences in applicable law, reflects that the evidence in the case was simply overwhelmed by the prejudice of this type of proceeding", Goodrich added.

The company denied that its products ever contained asbestos and insisted that they do not cause cancer.

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J&J said it was 'deeply disappointed in the verdict'.

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

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 trial is one of many proceedings CVN has recorded in Missouri, California, and SC state courts as part of its extensive talc litigation coverage.

The consumer and pharmaceuticals giant plans to appeal the verdict.

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Despite inconclusive evidence, there have been concerns that using talcum powder on the genitals can lead to ovarian cancer.