J&J ordered to pay $4.7 billion to women after claims its products gave them cancer
- Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay $4.69 billion to women who said its baby powder product gave them ovarian cancer, following a jurors’ ruling on Thursday.
- The St Louis city court decision is the 6th largest product defect award in US history and could open up long-term problems for J&J as claims build against it.
- The company’s shares fell 1.4% after the verdict on Thursday, but it has appealed against them.
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 St Louis city court verdict is the 6th largest product defect award in US history, ordering $4.14 billion in punitive damages, on top of the $500 million designed to compensate the 22 women and their families.
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.
“This was a new theory and the jury lined up behind it,” Jean Eggen, a Widener University law professor who teaches about mass-tort cases told Bloomberg.”That may be a harbinger of things to come and there are many more ovarian cancer cases than asbestos cases tied to the powder.”
The case is linked to more than 9,000 claims that its products are linked to ovarian cancer. Imerys SA, the company that supplied the powder was also sued and settled the claim for $5 million.
Lanier, the plaintiff’s lawyer told jurors in his closing arguments that the company knew its products were contaminated with asbestos but wanted to protect the baby powder which was “their sacred cow.”
The company “rigged” the tests he said, adding that if one test showed asbestos was present, the samples would be sent to another lab that J&J knew would find different results.
J&J denied the argument saying that it didn’t make sense for the company to do extensive testing and still allow the product to be harmful. The company’s lawyer said it used the best labs for testing and it will appeal the jury’s decision.
“[The verdict] was the product of a fundamentally unfair process that allowed plaintiffs to present a group of 22 women, most of whom had no connection to Missouri, in a single case all alleging that they developed ovarian cancer,” a Carol Goodrich, J&J spokeswomen told Bloomberg.
Adding that the case was “overwhelmed by the prejudice of this type of proceeding.”
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