Johnson & Johnson ordered to pay $4.7B in ovarian cancer suit

Via Nu1983

Via Nu1983

A bottle of Johnson and Johnson Baby Powder is seen in a photo illustration taken in New York, February 24, 2016.

Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay $4.7 billion to 22 women who claimed the company's baby powder caused ovarian cancer.

Punitive damages are still to be decided for the 22 plaintiffs in a case that began June 4 in St Louis Circuit Court.

Large punitive verdicts are regularly reduced or erased after the jury's decisions, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The verdict came shortly after the jury awarded $550 million in damages to the women.

Asbestos fibers and talc particles were found in the ovarian tissues of numerous women, the plaintiffs' lawyers said.

J&J is battling another 9,000 cases.

J&J shares fell $1.31, or 1 percent, to $126.45 in after-hours trading following the punitive damages award.

The company will appeal, Carol Goodrich, a spokeswoman, said in an email.

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Mark Lanier, lead counsel for the plaintiffs, said in a statement that Johnson & Johnson had covered up evidence of asbestos in their products for more than 40 years, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

'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'. In October, a judge reversed two verdicts in favor of the company.

J&J sought to protect the image of Baby Powder as "their sacred cow", he said. J&J should pull its talc-based products from the market or "mark it with a serious warning", he said.

But Lanier during the trial told jurors that the agency and other laboratories and J&J have used flawed testing methods that did not allow for the proper detection of asbestos fibers.

The company said its talc does not contain asbestos or cause ovarian cancer, and vowed it would 'pursue all available appellate remedies'.

"This was a new theory and the jury lined up behind it", Eggen said.

"If there were a link, any increase in risk would be fairly small, and as ovarian cancer is a relatively rare disease, overall women who use talc would still have a low chance of developing the disease". J&J sold the product to Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc.in 2012. Valeant now faces suits over the body powder.

J&J has successfully overturned talc verdicts in the past, with appeals courts pointing to a 2017 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that limits where personal injury lawsuits can be filed. Five plaintiffs were from Missouri, with others from states that include Arizona, New York, North Dakota, California, Georgia, the Carolinas and Texas.

Six of the women have died, while one is undergoing chemotherapy and was physically unable to appear at the verdict this week, according to Lanier.

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