A Missouri jury has ordered the New Jersey-based healthcare company Johnson and Johnson to pay $4.69 billion to 22 women who claimed that the multinational’s talc-based products had caused them to develop ovarian cancer.
The jury awarded plaintiffs $550 million in compensatory damages and $4.14 billion in punitive damages in a record pay-out that has been described by a J&J spokesperson as “fundamentally unfair”. The massive pay-out followed a six week trial in which testimony was heard from nearly a dozen experts on both sides.
The plaintiffs claimed that decades-long use of Johnson and Johnson’s talc-based products had caused them to develop cancer, alleging that the products had been contaminated with asbestos. The award comes as J&J faces an ongoing battle against more than 9,000 cases related to claims surrounding the potential dangers of the healthcare company’s baby powders.
J&J have however stated their intent to appeal the decision. The company has successfully overturned similar verdicts relating to their talc-based products in the past, arguing that due to legal technicalities, state courts lacked jurisdiction in the cases being heard.
Citing a ruling made by the Supreme Court in 2017, which declared that cases must be taken in states in which the company in question is based or in states in which the injuries occurred, the multinational successfully overturned a $55 million verdict made by a court in Missouri in July of this year.
A J&J spokesperson said: “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.”
Of the 22 women involved in the case against J&J, 17 were from outside of Missouri, a state which is generally regarded as particularly friendly towards plaintiffs. The company said in a statement that: “Johnson & Johnson is deeply disappointed in the verdict, which was the product of a fundamentally unfair process,” claiming that they were confident their products do not contain asbestos or cause cancer.