On Tuesday, the Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District denied Johnson & Johnson’s attempt to overturn a jury verdict in favor of 22 women who claimed the company’s talc-based products caused their ovarian cancer.
Although the court upheld the verdict, they reduced the total damages to $2.1 Billion, less than half of the original $4.69 Billion that the jury ordered Johnson & Johnson (J&J) to pay in the 2018 trial. The significant reduction was imposed by the court due to questions of jurisdiction, which resulted in 2 of the non-resident plaintiff’s claims being dismissed.
In their appeal, J&J described a flawed trial that was grounded in a faulty presentation of the facts. The appeals court disagreed entirely, arguing that the jury was well-informed and made their decision based on substantial evidence that J&J misled consumers about the safety of their talc-based products.
Appeals Court Rebukes J&J for ‘Reprehensible’ Conduct
The company faces more than 19,000 similar talcum powder lawsuits in courts across the country. At issue is the presence of asbestos in talc. Asbestos is a microscopic toxin that causes mesothelioma and other deadly diseases.
J&J has always said that its talc is free of asbestos, but internal memos reveal that the company has been lying. Not only had the company detected asbestos in their talc, but they had also engaged in a deliberate coverup. Although J&J disagrees with the narrative of a coverup, the appeals court noted that the jury had seen evidence that J&J:
- Discussed the presence of asbestos in their talc in internal memoranda for several decades
- Avoided adopting more accurate measures for detecting asbestos and influenced the industry to do the same
- Attempted to discredit those scientists publishing studies unfavorable to their talc-based products
While deliberately hiding the risks of asbestos, J&J continued to market its talc products for daily use. They encouraged people to use Johnsons’ Baby Powder and Shower to Shower multiple times a day on sensitive areas of the body that could increase the risk of asbestos exposure.
“We find there was significant reprehensibility in Defendants’ conduct,” the appeals court said in their opinion, laying out the damage caused by J&J’s failure to warn consumers:
“The harm suffered by Plaintiffs was physical, not just economic. Plaintiffs each developed and suffered from ovarian cancer.
Plaintiffs underwent chemotherapy, hysterectomies, and countless other surgeries. These medical procedures caused them to experience symptoms such as hair loss, sleeplessness, mouth sores, loss of appetite, seizures, nausea, neuropathy, and other infections.
Several Plaintiffs died, and surviving Plaintiffs experience recurrences of cancer and fear of relapse.
All Plaintiffs suffered mentally and emotionally. Their ovarian cancer diagnoses caused them constant worry and fear.”
Predictably, J&J has tried to position themselves as the victim in this case, and in other talcum powder lawsuits. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Of the 22 women named as plaintiffs, 11 have died.
If you, or someone you know, has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, ovarian cancer, or another asbestos-related disease, contact us today for a free legal case review. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.
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