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Johnson & Johnson told to pay $4.7bn in powder case
13 July 2018, 07:41 | Silvia Roy
Via Alexey Novikov
Fortune 500 company, Johnson & Johnson, has been ordered to pay $4.69 billion to women who argued in court that its talc products contained asbestos and caused them to develop ovarian cancer, Bloomberg reported.
The jury awarded $550 million and later added $4.14 billion in punitive damages against the company for allegedly failing to warn that its talcum powder raised the risk of ovarian cancer, after a six-week trial.
Medical experts testified during the trial that asbestos, a known carcinogen, is mixed in with mineral talc, which is the primary ingredient in Johnson & Johnson's Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products.
During Wednesday's closings of the trial's first phase, plaintiffs' attorney Mark Lanier did not request a specific damage award but urged jurors to write their figures "in big letters".
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Johnson & Johnson has been sued by more than 9,000 women who claim its talcum powder contributed to their ovarian cancer.
J&J "rigged" tests to avoid showing the presence of asbestos, Lanier said.
J&J in a statement called the trial "fundamentally unfair" and said it would appeal the decision.
Ingham, who used baby powder for decades, said she joined the lawsuit because women who use baby powder 'need to know what's in there. The accusations of suppressing or ignoring tests didn't make sense, said Peter Bicks, the company's trial counsel.
The consumer and pharmaceuticals giant plans to appeal the verdict.
The landmark trial is the first of its kind concerning claims that asbestos in J&J's talc causes ovarian cancer.
Meanwhile, the plaintiffs' lawyer, Mark Lanier, said in a statement that J&J should either pull its talc products from shelves or mark them with a "serious warning".
The jury reached a unanimous verdict yesterday to award compensatory damages for 22 plaintiffs that averaged US$25 million apiece. Five plaintiffs were from Missouri, with others from states that include Arizona, New York, North Dakota, California, Georgia, the Carolinas and Texas. "But sympathy aside, the plaintiffs have not come anywhere close to proving their case". Several other cases have involved sizeable damages, including a $417 million verdict reached by jurors in Los Angeles County Superior Court past year. It did not find asbestos in any of them. The U.S. Supreme Court has said such punishment awards must be proportional to compensatory damage verdicts that underlie them.
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The trial is one of many proceedings CVN has recorded in Missouri, California, and SC state courts as part of its extensive talc litigation coverage.
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