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

Jury awards $4.7 billion in lawsuit linking Johnson & Johnson baby powder to cancer

Fortune 500 company, Johnson & Johnson, has been ordered to pay $4.69 billion to women who argued in court that its talc products contained asbestos and caused them to develop ovarian cancer, Bloomberg reported. The company said it remained confident that its products do not contain asbestos or cause cancer.

A previous ruling in 2017 by a California jury awarded $417m (£323.4m) to a woman who said she developed ovarian cancer after using the firm's products including baby powder.

Plaintiffs' lawyer Mark Lanier (left), said that Johnson & Johnson knew asbestos was in their products.

Johnson & Johnson spokeswoman Carol Goodrich said in a statement that the company was disappointed with yesterday's verdict but would not comment further until the punitive damages are announced.

Johnson and Johnson baby powder. The accusations of suppressing or ignoring tests didn't make sense, said Peter A. Bicks, the company's trial counsel in Wednesday's closings. A Missouri appeals court tossed out a $55 million verdict in June citing jurisdictional issues. Six of the 22 plaintiffs have died from ovarian cancer, including two from Missouri.

The jury reached a unanimous verdict yesterday to award compensatory damages for 22 plaintiffs that averaged US$25 million apiece. The women in this case claim to have all used talc based powder for decades to keep their bodies smelling fresh and clean, particularly in their genital area. It said some studies had shown a link between use of talcum powder and ovarian cancer but more research was needed as "there was no consistent evidence to prove that the more you use talc, the greater your risk of ovarian cancer".

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The jury's decision that J&J's baby powder caused ovarian cancer could be more significant in the long-run then the large payout, as its stock dropped 1.4% after Thursday's verdict against its renowned product.

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.

It is highly unlikely the plaintiffs will keep an amount anywhere close to judgment award. No asbestos was found in any of the talc samples, the agency said.

J&J's statement reiterated its contention that its talc is asbestos-free and promised to challenge the decision. Plus, many appeals courts cut back punitive damages awards on appeal.

Johnson & Johnson has faced multiple trials in St Louis over ovarian cancer claims, losing four of the first five to go to trial.

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