The $4.69 billion verdict by a St. Louis jury last July against Johnson & Johnson in a case brought by 22 women who linked their use of the company’s talcum powder to their ovarian cancer diagnoses, is “fair and reasonable” compensation considering the substantial amount of evidence introduced during the trial, a Missouri judge ruled.
St. Louis Circuit Court Judge Rex Burlison said that due process was followed when the jury reached its verdict in the case. The verdict included $550 million in compensatory damages and $4.14 billion in punitive damages. Both Johnson & Johnson and its unit Johnson & Johnson Consumer were held responsible for strict liability and negligence for the women’s injuries.
Burlison also denied Johnson & Johnson’s request for a new trial, and rejected its argument that the women’s experts didn’t provide reliable evidence during the trial.
Burlison further supported the verdict by saying the company displayed “particularly reprehensible conduct” by marketing its talc-containing products as safe for mothers and babies even though it knew its products like Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower body powder contained cancer-causing asbestos.
“Defendants’ actions caused significant physical harm and potential harm, including ovarian cancer in plaintiffs or plaintiffs’ decedents,” he said.
Johnson & Johnson faces more than 11,000 lawsuits alleging its talcum powder products can cause ovarian cancer or mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure. The most recent trial resulted in the largest plaintiff award, but previous verdicts have resulted in high-dollar verdicts, including a $117 million verdict in New Jersey and a $110 million verdict in St. Louis.