Jury or­ders J&J to pay $4.7 bln in Mis­souri as­bestos can­cer case

Stabroek News - - WORLD NEWS -

(Reuters) - A Mis­souri jury yes­ter­day or­dered John­son & John­son to pay a record $4.69 bil­lion to 22 women who al­leged the com­pany’s talc-based prod­ucts, in­clud­ing its baby pow­der, con­tain as­bestos and caused them to de­velop ovar­ian can­cer.

The ver­dict is the largest J&J has faced to date over al­le­ga­tions that its talc-based prod­ucts cause can­cer.

The com­pany is bat­tling some 9,000 talc cases. J&J de­nies both that its talc prod­ucts cause can­cer and that they ever con­tained as­bestos. It says decades of stud­ies show its talc to be safe and has suc­cess­fully over­turned pre­vi­ous talc ver­dicts on tech­ni­cal le­gal grounds.

Thurs­day’s mas­sive ver­dict, handed down in the Cir­cuit Court of the City of St. Louis, was com­prised of $550 mil­lion in com­pen­satory dam­ages and $4.14 bil­lion in puni­tive dam­ages, ac­cord­ing to an on­line broad­cast of the trial by Court­room View Net­work.

J&J in a state­ment called the trial “fun­da­men­tally un­fair” and said it would ap­peal the de­ci­sion.

J&J shares fell $1.31, or 1 per­cent, to $126.45 in af­ter­hours trad­ing fol­low­ing the puni­tive dam­ages award. They had risen $1.52 dur­ing reg­u­lar trad­ing.

The jury’s de­ci­sion fol­lowed more than five weeks of tes­ti­mony by nearly a dozen ex­perts on both sides.

The women and their fam­i­lies said decades-long use of Baby Pow­der and other cos­metic talc prod­ucts caused their dis­eases. They al­lege the com­pany knew its talc was con­tam­i­nated with as­bestos since at least the 1970s but failed to warn con­sumers about the risks.

“John­son & John­son is deeply dis­ap­pointed in the ver­dict, which was the prod­uct of a fun­da­men­tally un­fair process,” the com­pany said in a state­ment. The com­pany said it re­mained con­fi­dent that its prod­ucts do not con­tain as­bestos or cause can­cer.

“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,” J&J added, say­ing that it would pur­sue all avail­able ap­pel­late reme­dies.

J&J has suc­cess­fully over­turned talc ver­dicts in the past, with ap­peals courts point­ing to a 2017 de­ci­sion by the U.S. Supreme Court that lim­its where per­sonal in­jury law­suits can be filed.

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