Johnson & Johnson is expected to ask the Missouri Circuit Court in St. Louis City to undo or, at the very least, reduce a $4.69 billion verdict awarded to 22 women who accused the company’s talcum powder of being contaminated with asbestos and causing their ovarian cancer. But the women say the verdict should stand because the “vast majority of evidence” shows the company was aware its talc-containing products were dangerous but continued to sell the product without warning consumers.
The Aug. 22 verdict includes $4.14 billion in punitive damages and $550 million in compensatory damages against Johnson & Johnson’s subsidiary Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. The verdict followed two previous Missouri verdicts of $110 million and $70 million, which are also on appeal. But the billion-dollar verdict was the first to go to trial in the state naming asbestos in the talcum powder as the probable culprit in the women’s ovarian cancer diagnoses.
Talc and asbestos are minerals, and both are mined from the earth in similar fashion. Documents show that testing on talc from the Vermont mine where J&J obtained its talc contained asbestos. Asbestos was widely used in construction materials but its use was restricted in the 1980s after exposure to asbestos was linked to lung cancer and mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer.
Johnson & Johnson has faced lawsuits in other states alleging Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower body powder, both of which contain talc, were contaminated with asbestos and contributed to mesothelioma diagnoses.
J&J faces about 600 lawsuits in St. Louis and about 9,000 in New Jersey from women alleging regular use of its talcum powder on their genitals for feminine hygiene caused them to develop ovarian cancer. Only some of those cases allege the talc contained asbestos.
Source: Bloomberg News