A jury in the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis has handed down the largest verdict to date for Johnson & Johnson. The jury says the consumer goods giant must pay $4.69 billion to 22 women who alleged the company’s talc-based products contain asbestos and caused them to develop cancer. The company currently faces some 9,000 talc cases.
The massive verdict, handed down Thursday, July 12, 2018, included $550 million in compensatory damages and $4.14 billion in punitive damages, reports CNBC. The jury’s decision came after more than five weeks of testimony by nearly a dozen experts on both sides.
The women in the case and their families claimed that decades long use of J&J Baby Powder and other similar cosmetic talc products caused their cancer. They also claimed that the company knew its talc was contaminated with asbestos since at least the 1970s, but failed to warn consumers about the risks.
An attorney for the women called on J&J to pull its talc products from the market “before causing further anguish, harm, and death from a terrible disease,” reports CNBC. “If J&J insists on continuing to sell talc, they should mark it with a serious warning,” he said.
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), in its natural form, some talc contains asbestos, a substance known to cause cancers in and around the lungs when inhaled. In addition, reports CNN, “deposits of talc, one of Earth's softest minerals, are often located near deposits of the minerals that constitute asbestos, and studies have shown the risk of cross-contamination during mining.”
Although many of the lawsuits that J&J faces involve claims that the talc in J&J products caused ovarian cancer, a number of other cases claim that contaminated talc caused mesothelioma. “The cases that went to trial in St. Louis effectively combine those claims by alleging asbestos-contaminated talc caused ovarian cancer,” reports CNBC.
Previous talc trials have produced verdicts as large as $417 million.
If you have been exposed to asbestos, see your doctor right away. Early detection of all cancers, including mesothelioma, could lead to better treatment options and outcomes. See your doctor to assess your risk today.
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