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Johnson & Johnson Ordered to Pay Record $4.69 Billion in Missouri Asbestos Cancer Case

Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay a record $4.69 billion to 22 women who alleged the company’s talc-based products contain asbestos and caused them to develop cancer. This is the largest verdict “J&J has faced to date over allegations that its talc-based products cause cancer,” reports CNBC. Although the company continues to deny that its talc products cause cancer and that they never contained asbestos, the consumer goods giant still faces some 9,000 talc cases.

The massive verdict, handed down Thursday, July 12, 2018 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,” reports CNBC. The jury’s decision came after more than five weeks of testimony by nearly a dozen experts on both sides.

Previous talc trials have produced verdicts as large as $417 million.

The women in the Missouri case and their families claimed that decades long use of J&J Baby Powder and other similar cosmetic talc products caused their cancer. “They allege the company knew its talc was contaminated with asbestos since at least the 1970s but failed to warn consumers about the risks.”

An attorney for the women called on J&J to pull its talc products from the market “before causing further anguish, harm, and death from a terrible disease,” reports CNBC. “If J&J insists on continuing to sell talc, they should mark it with a serious warning,” he said.

Although many of the lawsuits that J&J faces involve claims that the talc in its products caused ovarian cancer, a number of other cases claim that contaminated talc caused mesothelioma—a  devastating cancer caused by asbestos exposure. “The cases that went to trial in St. Louis effectively combine those claims by alleging asbestos-contaminated talc caused ovarian cancer,” reports CNBC.

If you are concerned about using talc, the American Cancer Society says studies of personal use of talcum powder have had mixed results, so until more information is available, you may want to avoid or limit your use of consumer products that contain it.

 

Sources

Christensen, Jen. "New Jersey couple awarded $117 million in talcum powder case." CNN.com. Cable News Network, 11 Apr 2018. Web. 12 July 2018.

Hsu, Tiffany. "Johnson & Johnson Told to Pay $4.7 Billion in Baby Powder Lawsuit." NYTimes.com. The New York Times Company, 12 July 2018. Web. 12 July 2018.

"J&J shares drop after Jury orders company to pay nearly $4.7 billion in Missouri asbestos cancer case." CNBC.com. CNBC LLC., 12 July 2018. Web. 12 July 2018.

"Talcum Powder and Cancer." American Cancer Society. American Cancer Society, Inc., 2018. Web. 12 July 2018.