Via a Missouri-based court jury, life sciences giant Johnson & Johnson yesterday was found liable for nearly $4.7 billion in combined actual and punitive damages for a talcum powder product that allegedly contained asbestos, which 22 women associated with the trial claimed caused their ovarian cancers. In effect, the plaintiffs asserted that the product should have had warnings, alerting users to mineral talc intermingled with alleged asbestos, the latter a widely known carcinogen. Approximately 9,000 women have sued Johnson & Johnson over the product, and, several months ago, a separate court in New Jersey found the company liable for $37 million, for two people.
Regarding yesterday’s Missouri verdict, New Brunswick-based Johnson & Johnson released the following statement: “Johnson & Johnson is deeply disappointed in the verdict, which was the product of 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.
“Johnson & Johnson remains confident that its products do not contain asbestos and do not cause ovarian cancer and intends to pursue all available appellate remedies. Every verdict against Johnson & Johnson in this court that has gone through the appeals process has been reversed and the multiple errors present in this trial were worse than those in the prior trials which have been reversed.”
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