Johnson & Johnson shares dip after massive talcum powder judgment

Johnson & Johnson shares dip after massive talcum powder judgment

Johnson & Johnson shares dip after massive talcum powder judgment

Johnson & Johnson is already feeling the sting after a St. Louis jury awarded $4.7 billion in total damages to 22 women and their families who blame asbestos in the consumer-products company's talcum powder for their ovarian cancer.

The jury's verdict at a St Louis Court in Missouri follows six weeks of testimony and means the company will be forced to pay out £419 million ($550 million) in compensation and an additional £3.15billion ($4.14billion) in punitive damages.

In the six week trial, the women and their families said they developed ovarian cancer after using baby powder and other talc products for decades. The company said it remained confident that its products do not contain asbestos or cause cancer.

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During Wednesday's closings of the trial's first phase, plaintiffs' attorney Mark Lanier did not request a specific damage award but urged jurors to write their figures "in big letters".

The $4.69 billion award is the largest jury award in the United States this year, Bloomberg reported. "If J&J insists on continuing to sell talc, they should mark it with a serious warning". "With all of this independent testing, there's some massive conspiracy going on at Johnson & Johnson to expose babies to asbestos?" The woman, Deane Berg also said that the company offered her a settlement of $1.3 million that she turned down. The company has consistently denied that its products can be linked to the disease.

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

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J&J is battling another 9,000 cases.

The claims rest on the fact that talc, a clay mineral, is often found in deposits alongside asbestos ore, which definitely is a cancer risk. Five plaintiffs were from Missouri, with others from Arizona, New York, North Dakota, California, Georgia, the Carolinas and Texas.

The jury reached a unanimous verdict Thursday to award compensatory damages for 22 plaintiffs that averaged US$25 million apiece.

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Asbestos fibers and talc particles were found in the ovarian tissues of numerous women, the plaintiffs said. The risky strategy allows earlier plaintiffs to send signals about legal tactics and their award amounts to women who bring cases later. Several other cases have involved sizeable damages, including a $417 million verdict reached by jurors in Los Angeles County Superior Court a year ago. But the prosecution lawyer told the Missouri court that the FDA and Johnson & Johnson had used flawed testing methods. However, there are experts who are still concerned about the safety of talc today, despite new asbestos-free formulas.

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