A St. Louis jury deliberated less than a full day before slapping Johnson & Johnson with a $4.69 billion verdict for knowingly selling asbestos-tainted talcum powder products to consumers. They said the company is to blame for giving a group of 22 women cancer, six of whom died before the case went to trial.
The case, tried in the St. Louis Circuit Court, is the latest alleging talcum powder contains the carcinogen asbestos and can cause consumers to develop cancer. Some lawsuits claim that regular use led to the development of mesothelioma, a form of cancer that develops in the lining of the lungs or other internal organs.
The 22 women in the most recent trial claimed regular use of Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower body powder on their genitals for feminine hygiene contributed to their ovarian cancer.
The jury awarded total compensatory damages of $550 million. The jury then deliberated on punitive damages and awarded a total of $4.14 billion to the women, with Johnson & Johnson liable for $3.15 billion and its subsidiary, Johnson & Johnson Consumer, being liable for $990 million.
The women’s attorney called for Johnson & Johnson to remove the dangerous products from the market in light of damning evidence in the trial that suggested the talc was contaminated with asbestos.
The huge award – which translates to about $213 million per plaintiff – overshadows the $417 million verdict in California in a similar case, which was later reduced by the trial judge to $117 million. Johnson & Johnson shared the burden of that verdict with its talc supplier, Imerys Talc America.