- A New Jersey jury ordered J&J to pay $750 million in punitive damages to Baby Powder users who claim the powder contains asbestos which caused their cancer
- After the ruling, the judge slashed the award to $186.5 million
- The talc legal proceedings may ultimately cost the company as much as $10 billion
The New Jersey state jury ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay an additional $750 million in punitive damages to several former Baby Powder users who claimed that the asbestos in the product was the cause of their cancers.
This group of plaintiff has already won $37.2 million in an earlier phase of the trial. However, the state court Judge Ana V. Viscomi slashed the punitive damages to $186.5 million, because of the state laws.
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Johnson & Johnson said it plans to appeal both phases of the trial, alleging “numerous legal errors that subjected the jury to irrelevant information and prevented them from hearing meaningful evidence.”
“Today’s verdict is at odds with the decades of evidence showing the company acted responsibly, was guided by sound science and used the most sophisticated testing available for its talc,” said Kim Montagnino, a spokeswoman for J&J.
The ruling happened after the company’s CEO Alex Gorsky appeared in court last month to testify against allegations that the J&J Baby Powder causes cancer.
“We believe the jury was speaking directly to Alex Gorsky,” said a lawyer of one of the plaintiffs.
The medical device company faces over 16,000 suits alleging its talc-based powders contain asbestos and had failed to warn consumers. Almost a third of these lawsuits were filed in 2019.
J&J has continuously denied the allegations, saying the regulators have conducted a number of tests showing its talc is safe and asbestos-free.
Several months ago, J&J was ordered by the Philadelphia jury to pay over $8 billion to a man who claimed he grew female-sized breasts after using the Risperdal antipsychotic drug. The judge cut the award by 99.9% to $6.8 million last month.
The talc legal proceedings may ultimately cost Johnson & Johnson as much as $10 billion, as reported by Bloomberg Intelligence. Despite the fact that the Baby Powder covers only a small portion of the company’s annual revenue, it’s been a J&J trademark for more than 100 years.