J&J ordered to pay $4.69 bn damages in talc cancer case

13 July, 2018, 19:39 | Author: Kara Nash
  • Jury awards $4.7 billion in lawsuit linking Johnson & Johnson baby powder to cancer

Johnson and Johnson baby powder.

Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay almost $4.7bn (£3.58bn) in damages to 22 women who claim the company's talcum powder contributed to them developing ovarian cancer.

Nonetheless, Divan reiterated an Overweight rating and $151 price target on the shares, writing that while it's hard to quantify J&J's ultimate liability at the moment, given the company's "strong financial position, we are confident J&J will be able to absorb even relatively large payments to resolve these cases".

The jury's award was the sixth-largest product-defect award in United States history, consisting of $550 million in compensatory damages and $4.14 billion in punitive damages.

The verdict marked the sixth-largest award related to product defects in US history, Bloomberg reported.

A jury ruled in Johnson & Johnson's favor in one lawsuit in California last November.

Meanwhile, the plaintiffs' lawyer, Mark Lanier, said in a statement that J&J should either pull its talc products from shelves or mark them with a "serious warning".

The company is reportedly still battling around 9,000 talc cases.

German shares of the company fell as much as 3.59 euros to 105.48 euros ($122.65) after closing at $127.76 Thursday in NY.

The company will appeal, Carol Goodrich, a spokeswoman, said in an email.

The company's products don't contain asbestos and don't cause ovarian cancer, she said. In October, a judge reversed two verdicts in favor of the company. "Every verdict against Johnson & Johnson in this court that has gone through the appeals process has been reversed and the multiple errors present in this trial were worse than those in the prior trials which have been reversed".

Mark Lanier, the Houston-based lawyer for the plaintiffs, presented jurors with internal company documents revealing Johnson & Johnson knew of the asbestos in its products and failed to warn consumers.

J&J sought to protect the image of Baby Powder as "their sacred cow", he said.

J&J faces lawsuits from customers who say they were harmed by both its talc and transvaginal mesh products. However, the prosecution in this case argued that J&J and the FDA's tests were flawed. The damages awarded in the latest trial relate to claims of cancer linked to asbestos after the women used baby powder and other products over several decades.

"This was a new theory and the jury lined up behind it", Eggen said.

There have been other talcum powder cases in the past, but this was the first to claim Johnson & Johnson's talcum powder contains asbestos and that the exposure to asbestos caused ovarian cancer in the 22 plaintiffs.

The company did not immediately provide a statement on the total damages award, but earlier said it was disappointed with the jury's decision finding the company liable. A court in California ruled on a similar case against the cosmetics company a year ago, calling on it to pay $417 million.

The jurors sat through weeks of testimony listening to experts who explained the complicated science, workers at Johnson & Johnson who said their product was safe.

Five previous cases have been decided and Johnson & Johnson has appealed those that it lost.

Six of the women have died, while one is undergoing chemotherapy and was physically unable to appear at the verdict this week, according to Lanier.

"The evidence in the case was simply overwhelmed by the prejudice of this type of proceeding".



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