On July 12, a St. Louis jury sided with 22 female plaintiffs who claimed that Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based products caused them to develop ovarian cancer. The jury has ordered Johnson & Johnson (J&J) to pay at least $550 Million in compensatory damages. This figure does not yet include punitive damages – damages assessed for punishment – which are likely to be announced soon.
In the meantime, while jurors resume their deliberations over further damages, the 22 plaintiffs will generally be awarded an average of $25 Million each.
The collective group of women, who came from all around the U.S., sued J&J and subsidiary Johnson & Johnson Consumer, Inc., and, in addition, a unit of Imerys SA, which supplied the talc to J&J. Prior to the trial, Imerys Talc America agreed to pay at least $5 Million to settle the claims against them.
The second phase of the trial, for the assessment of punitive damages, will start Friday, July 13.
Inside Johnson & Johnson Talc Asbestos Lawsuits
In this week’s verdict, J&J was found guilty for strict liability and negligence, and therefore responsible for all plaintiff injuries, including the death of 6 women (who were represented by their husbands and/or families in the trial).
J&J, which has of late found itself paying out large sums money in asbestos-contaminated talc cases, allegedly hid from the public certain testing data and scientific studies that suggested J&J knew of the asbestos contamination in its talc-based products, Baby Powder and Shower to Shower. It was argued that such data, which identified the presence of asbestos in the company’s talc, were subsequently sent on to a company-friendly laboratory that would produce different data to show the talc was safe.
2018 Shaping up to Be a Bad Year for J&J
On the day of the $550 Million verdict announcement, it was also reported that J&J’s stock has fallen a total of 13 percent in 2018.
Already, J&J has faced multiple million-dollar verdicts of a similar nature, losing 4 out of 5 asbestos-caused ovarian cancer cases so far. Relatedly, J&J is in the middle of other court battles alleging the same talc-based products are to blame for victims’ mesothelioma, a lethal cancer caused exclusively by asbestos. This past May, a California woman was awarded $25.7 Million in 1 such trial.
In spite of the compensatory damages assessed and the punitive damages to come, J&J spokesperson Carol Goodrich has yet to comment on the massive verdict in much detail: “While we are disappointed with this decision, the jury has further deliberations to conduct in this trial and we will reserve additional comment until the case is fully completed.” J&J still denies any asbestos-product contamination and is appealing all previous talc-asbestos verdicts.
The $550 Million verdict, announced Thursday, is the third-largest in the U.S. in 2018.