Just months ago, Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay a record $4.69 billion to 22 women who said the company’s talc-based products contained asbestos and caused them to develop cancer. The consumer goods giant appealed the verdict and lost. On August 22, 2018, Judge Rex Burlison of the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis affirmed the jury’s decision to award the 22 women (and their families) compensatory damages of $25 million each and punitive damages of $4.14 billion.
Holly Ennis, an attorney and women’s health advocate, told consumer advocacy organization Drugwatch that verdicts such as this “definitely help future cases.” They “give women a sense of validation and a sense that everything they are suffering is not going to be in vain,” she said.
Other legal experts say the affirmation “could encourage more people to file talcum powder lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson,” reports Drugwatch.
Johnson & Johnson expressed “disappointment” in the verdict, claiming that the process is “fundamentally unfair.” The company says it will continue to appeal the Missouri court decision. Ennis disagrees. Upholding the $4.69 billion verdict “sends a clear message to J&J,” says Ennis. “It will most likely initiate a global resolution of the claims because J&J is not going to want to do this over and over again.”
Johnson & Johnson still faces 10,600 talcum powder lawsuits according to the company’s most recent quarterly report. Just weeks ago, the latest J&J lawsuit went to trial in Los Angeles. The plaintiff is the case claims that Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder caused her mesothelioma.
Previous talc trials have produced verdicts as large as $417 million.
If you are concerned about using talc, you’re not alone. For anyone who is unsure about whether talc is safe to use, the American Cancer Society says studies of personal use of talcum powder have had mixed results, so until more information is available, you may want to avoid or limit your use of consumer products that contain it.
Hsu, Tiffany. "Johnson & Johnson Told to Pay $4.7 Billion in Baby Powder Lawsuit." NYTimes.com. The New York Times Company, 12 July 2018. Web. 12 July 2018.
"J&J shares drop after Jury orders company to pay nearly $4.7 billion in Missouri asbestos cancer case." CNBC.com. CNBC LLC., 12 July 2018. Web. 12 July 2018.
LLamas, Michelle and Emily Miller. “Judge Affirms $4.69B Verdict in Baby Powder Cancer Lawsuit.” Drugwatch.com. Drugwatch.com, LLC., 27 Aug. 2018. Web. 07 Sep. 2018.
"Talcum Powder and Cancer." American Cancer Society. American Cancer Society, Inc., 2018. Web. 12 July 2018.