Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay out $4.69 billion (£3.57 billion) in damages to 22 women and their families who alleged talc sold by the company contained asbestos and caused them to suffer cancer.
After a six-week trial in St Louis, Missouri, jurors found in favour of the plaintiffs in the case, who claimed that using the talc for personal hygiene had caused ovarian cancer.
The damages include $550 million in compensation and over $4.1 billion in punitive damages.
The victims’ lawyer, Mark Lanier, accused Johnson & Johnson of “covering up the evidence of asbestos in their products for more than 40 years”.
In 2017 a court ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay a record $417 million to Echevarria, a woman who claimed in a lawsuit that the talc in the company’s iconic baby powder causes ovarian cancer
“We hope this verdict will get the attention of the J&J board and that it will lead them to better inform the medical community and the public about the connection between asbestos, talc, and ovarian cancer,” said Mr Lanier, who called for talc to be pulled from the market.
Johnson & Johnson said it was “deeply disappointed in the verdict”.
In a statement, it described the trial as “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.”
“The result of the verdict, which awarded the exact same amounts to all plaintiffs irrespective of their individual facts, and differences in applicable law, reflects that the evidence in the case was simply overwhelmed by the prejudice of this type of proceeding.”
The company said its talc does not contain asbestos or cause ovarian cancer, and vowed it would “pursue all available appellate remedies.”
Several similar trials have already taken place, with a Los Angeles appeals court last October dismissing a $417 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson, saying the complainant’s arguments were insufficient and vague.
How can Gotelee help?
Asbestos’s deadly legacy has brought tragedy and torment to thousands of families.
Our expert team of personal injury lawyers led by James Davies have a wealth of experience in claims of this kind, acting for both the person exposed to asbestos and their families.
We understand the emotional trauma involved and pride ourselves on treating our clients with care and sensitivity.
If you or a member of your family has suffered an asbestos-related illness or if you have lost a loved one to the disease, you may be able to make a claim for compensation and claim state benefits.
To find out more, visit us at one of our offices in Ipswich, Felixstowe, Hadleigh or Woodbridge, or call us on 01473 298125.