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Record $4.69 Billion Verdict in Johnson & Johnson Asbestos Case Upheld

In July of this year, consumer goods giant Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay a record $4.69 billion to 22 women who said the company’s talc-based products contained asbestos and caused them to develop cancer. Johnson & Johnson appealed the verdict, but on August 22, 2018, Judge Rex Burlison of the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis affirmed the jury’s decision to award the 22 women and their families compensatory damages of $25 million each and punitive damages of $4.14 billion.

Attorney and Women’s Health Advocate Holly Ennis told consumer advocacy organization Drugwatch that verdicts such as this “give women a sense of validation and a sense that everything they are suffering is not going to be in vain.”

“I think verdicts like these definitely help future cases,” she said.

Other legal experts say Judge Burlison’s affirmation “could encourage more people to file talcum powder lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson,” reports Drugwatch.

Johnson & Johnson expressed disappointment in the verdict, saying it will continue to appeal the Missouri court decision. Ennis disagrees. If an appellate court reduces the $4.69 billion jury verdict, it could lead to a global settlement for Johnson & Johnson talc claims. Upholding the $4.69 billion verdict “sends a clear message to J&J,” Ennis said. “It will most likely initiate a global resolution of the claims because J&J is not going to want to do this over and over again.”

Johnson & Johnson still faces around 10,600 talcum powder lawsuits according to the company’s most recent quarterly report. Just weeks ago, the latest J&J lawsuit went to trial in Los Angeles. The plaintiff is the case claims that Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder caused her mesothelioma.

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

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

 

Sources

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.

LLamas, Michelle and Emily Miller. “Judge Affirms $4.69B Verdict in Baby Powder Cancer Lawsuit.” Drugwatch.com. Drugwatch.com, LLC., 27 Aug. 2018. Web. 07 Sep. 2018.

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