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Johnson & Johnson ordered to pay $4.69 billion in talcum powder lawsuit

14 July 2018

The damages include $550 million in compensation and over $4.1 billion in punitive damages.

Aside from ovarian cancer lawsuits, jurors have hit the company with verdicts in mesothelioma cases in recent months as well. On Thursday, Lanier highlighted results he said showed asbestos both in talc mines and the baby powder itself.

Plaintiffs' lawyer Mark Lanier told the jurors during closing arguments Wednesday that they were the first to see documents showing that Johnson & Johnson knew its products contained asbestos and didn't warn consumers.

Beisner said jurisdiction will be one major basis for J&J to appeal Thursday's verdict.

This isn't the first time that J&J has squared off against customers who claimed they developed cancer from using its products: Just a year ago, a California court ordered it to pay a record $417 million to a woman who claimed she developed terminal ovarian cancer from talc-based products.

"The evidence in the case was simply overwhelmed by the prejudice of this type of proceeding", the company said in a statement.

The company said its talc does not contain asbestos or cause ovarian cancer, and vowed it would 'pursue all available appellate remedies'.

A previous ruling in 2017 by a California jury awarded $417m but that was later overturned on appeal.

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At issue were claims that the pharmaceutical giant sold powder products that were contaminated with asbestos - once a pollutant in talc that has been linked to lung cancer - though there is much debate about whether talcum powder can lead to ovarian cancer. The plaintiffs introduced numerous test reports that they said showed that Johnson & Johnson knew for decades that traces of asbestos were present in its talc deposits and even finished powders.

Six of the women have died; nearly all of the rest, along with friends and relatives, were in the courtroom Thursday.

"The company should pull talc from the market before causing further anguish, harm, and death from a bad disease", he added.

The company is battling some 9,000 talc cases.

The verdict is the largest the company has faced to date over allegations that its products, including baby powder, cause cancer.

The claims rest on the fact that talc, a clay mineral, is often found in deposits alongside asbestos ore, which definitely is a cancer risk.

They say that all of their products undergo rigorous testing and purification to ensure that their product is clean and safe to use. The links between asbestos and cancer have amplified studies into its use in myriad ways since the 1970s. Each of the women suffer from ovarian cancer, and allege that asbestos in Johnson & Johnson's baby powder is the cause. A New Jersey judge in 2016 stalled lawsuits in that state by tossing two cases set for trial, also finding a lack of scientific evidence. For example, Colgate Palmolive faces 199 suits involving the Cashmere Bouquet powder it marketed until 1996, according to its latest quarterly report.

Johnson & Johnson ordered to pay $4.69 billion in talcum powder lawsuit