Jury awards $4.7 billion in talcum powder case

14 Juillet, 2018, 11:01 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • J&J denies claims its talc products contain asbestos

The other two are on appeal, facing the same challenges from J&J.

A St. Louis jury found that Johnson & Johnson's talcum powder caused cancer in 22 women and awarded total damages of over $4 billion.

Target Ovarian Cancer said it was important to note that the increased risk was "very small".

Mr Lanier said Johnson & Johnson had spent 40 years covering up evidence of asbestos in some of its talcum-based products and should mark those products with warning labels or focus on powders made with cornstarch.

Asbestos fibers and talc particles were found in the ovarian tissues of numerous women, the plaintiffs said. "For those that used talcum powder it could be five in 200".

Johnson & Johnson called the ruling "fundamentally unfair" and has said it plans to appeal.

During closing arguments, Johnson & Johnson lawyer Peter Bicks said the company for years has exceeded industry standards in testing talcum powder for asbestos and cited several scientific studies and conclusions by U.S. government agencies that he said found the company's products didn't contain asbestos and were safe.

Several similar trials have already taken place, with a Los Angeles appeals court last October dismissing a $417 million verdict against J&J, saying the complainant's arguments were insufficient and vague. According to the plaintiffs, the company's talcum powder contains unsafe asbestos that caused them to develop ovarian cancer.

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The landmark trial is the first of its kind concerning claims that asbestos in J&J's talc causes ovarian cancer. "Let them read it without putting on their glasses".

A female juror, who did not want her name used, told the Post-Dispatch that jurors arrived at the punitive damages amount by multiplying the figure Johnson & Johnson earns each year for selling baby powder by the 43 years that the company has denied the product contained asbestos.

Fiona Osgun, health information manager at Cancer Research UK, added: "Scientists are studying the link between women using talcum powder on their genitals and ovarian cancer and so far the evidence doesn't give a clear picture".

The jury has yet to decide on punitive damages.

The verdict was given by a jury in Missouri, US, and the pharmaceutical company also faces claims from 9,000 other people. Lanier said J&J responded to these results by deleting findings, and "manipulating" federal agencies such as the FDA.

Large punitive verdicts are regularly reduced or erased after the jury's decisions, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It's outrageous the games and tricks that they would go to, but that's what they would do, " Lanier said.

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.

Johnson & Johnson, which has successfully appealed a number of talc cases, said in its statement Thursday that "the multiple errors present in this trial were worse than those in the prior trials which have been reversed".

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