Last July, Johnson & Johnson was hit with a staggering $4.69 billion verdict – one of the largest jury awards in the country – over claims that its Johnson’s Baby Powder and other talcum powder products contain asbestos – a known carcinogen – and contributed to the ovarian cancer diagnoses of 22 women. The news sent the company’s stock into its biggest annual share loss in a decade. But the company may never pay a dime of that verdict.
The consumer health care giant is appealing the massive verdict. Its chances of seeing the award slashed or even stricken completely is likely considering no verdict that size has withstood appeal. It’s a pretty common practice for judges to slash massive awards, Widener University mass tort law professor Jean Eggen told SF Gate. “The civil system is set up so a judge can determine if it’s overvalued.”
Enormous awards often represent the anger of jurors who recommend such awards to punish companies. In Johnson & Johnson’s case, it was for not informing federal regulators or warning consumers that its talcum powders contained cancer-causing asbestos.
The attorney who represented the 22 women who sued Johnson & Johnson believes the verdict will stick, considering the punitive damages will be divided among all 22 plaintiffs.
Whatever the outcome, it is likely that Johnson & Johnson will ultimately have to pay out large sums of money, says Bloomberg Intelligence litigation analyst Holly Froum – as much as $20 billion in settlements to resolve cases, which have multiplied substantially to nearly 12,000 since the first big talc-related verdicts in St. Louis in 2016.
Source: SF Gate