On July 12, a jury in St. Louis, Missouri, awarded 22 plaintiffs $4.69 billion in damages in a lawsuit alleging that Johnson & Johnson, or J&J for short, and an affiliated company, sold baby powder containing asbestos that had allegedly caused ovarian cancer after long-term use.
The trial in the St. Louis Circuit Court, a Missouri state tribunal, lasted about five weeks.
About $550 million was for actual, compensatory damages, while about $4 billion was in punitive damages, which are designed to both punish the defendant and to set out a wrongdoing defendant as an example to deter other similar parties from engaging in the same behavior.
Of the 22 plaintiffs, most were women who have active or fatal ovarian cancer, or who underwent successful treatment. Six of the plaintiffs were the survivors of victims who had died. Other plaintiffs had spouses who were negatively impacted.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the jury gave $25 million to each woman or family for compensatory damages. Citing an unnamed juror, the paper said that the punitive damages were calculated by multiplying $70 billion (a recent annual company profit for baby powder) times 43 or the number of years since J&J “claimed the baby powder did not contain asbestos.”
Reportedly, J&J has known of the asbestos risk in its talc since the 1970s and did not warn consumers. J&J disputes this, however, saying that its products have no asbestos and that it intends to pursue appeal.
The Post-Dispatch quotes plaintiffs’ lawyer as saying the J&J should no longer sell talcum powder in lieu of a safe replacement product J&J makes of corn starch.
The manufacturers of talc products need to be held accountable for their negligence, their failure to warn consumers of the associated dangers, and more. If you or a loved one has developed ovarian cancer or mesothelioma due to the use of a talcum powder product, do not hesitate to schedule a free consultation here with one of our attorneys today.