Women Awarded Almost $5 Billion In Damages from J&J

Jury awards $4.7 billion in lawsuit linking Johnson & Johnson baby powder to cancer

Johnson & Johnson must pay US$4.14 billion (RM16.68 billion) in punitive damages to women who claimed asbestos in the company's talc products caused them to develop ovarian cancer.

The state court jury, in Missouri's 22nd Judicial Circuit, deliberated for 8 hours before concluding Thursday that asbestos in the J&J products caused the women's ovarian cancer and awarding $550 million in compensatory damages on the claims.

Their lawyers alleged the company knew its talcum powder was contaminated with asbestos since the 1970s but failed to warn consumers about the risks. They also heard from the cancer survivors themselves and the loved ones of six plaintiffs who have died from their cancer.

The punitive damages are among the largest ever awarded in a product liability case, he said. "If J&J insists on continuing to sell talc, they should mark it with a serious warning".

"Johnson & Johnson is deeply disappointed in the verdict, which was the product of a fundamentally unfair process", it said in a statement.

A bottle of Johnson and Johnson Baby Powder is seen in a photo illustration taken in New York, February 24, 2016. However, the company said it will be appealing the result.

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"For over 40 years, Johnson & Johnson has covered up the evidence of asbestos in their products", said Mr. Lanier.

Johnson & Johnson vehemently denies that their product is unsafe and vowed to appeal the verdict.

And according to the National Cancer Institute, claims that talc used for feminine hygiene purposes can be absorbed by the reproductive system and cause inflammation in the ovaries are not supported by "the weight of evidence". The watchdog did not find asbestos contamination. The company is facing more than 9,000 plaintiffs in cases involving body powders with talc, according to a regulatory document filed this spring. The verdict comes in the first test of plaintiffs' claims of an asbestos ovarian cancer link in use of J&J's iconic baby powder. Five plaintiffs were from Missouri, with others from Arizona, New York, North Dakota, California, Georgia, the Carolinas and Texas.

It is highly unlikely the plaintiffs will keep an amount anywhere close to judgment award. Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in damages, and has fought them all in appeal. No asbestos was found in any of the talc samples, the agency said.

However, a judge later overturned that verdict and several other legal challenges by J&J are yet to be decided. The U.S. Supreme Court has said such punishment awards must be proportional to compensatory damage verdicts that underlie them.

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