Johnson & Johnson ordered to pay $4.69 bn damages in talc cancer case

Jury awards $4.7 billion in lawsuit linking Johnson & Johnson baby powder to cancer

The firm is embroiled in several cases against its trademark baby powder.

A jury in the U.S. state of Missouri has awarded $4.7 billion in total damages to 22 women and their families after they claimed asbestos in Johnson & Johnson (J&J) talcum powder contributed to their ovarian cancer.

Nonetheless, Divan reiterated an Overweight rating and $151 price target on the shares, writing that while it's hard to quantify J&J's ultimate liability at the moment, given the company's "strong financial position, we are confident J&J will be able to absorb even relatively large payments to resolve these cases".

The company has, since then, been sued by thousands of women and in August 2017, it was ordered by a Los Angeles jury to pay damages of United States dollars 417 million to a hospital receptionist, who developed ovarian cancer after using Johnson's Baby Powder for decades. However, Mark Lanier, a lawyer for the women suing, said both the agency and the company used flawed testing methods, preventing them from detecting the possible presence of asbestos fibers. The asbestos cases are part of more than 9,000 claims facing J&J alleging its talc products cause cancer.

German shares of the company fell as much as 3.59 euros to 105.48 euros ($122.65) after closing at $127.76 Thursday in NY. It said it meant to appeal.

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The lawyer for the 22 women in this most recent case said in a statement following the ruling that Johnson & Johnson should pull its product "before causing further anguish, harm, and death from a awful disease".

She said the case was overwhelmed with "prejudice" because each plaintiff was awarded the same $25 million "irrespective of their individual facts", according to Bloomberg.

The plaintiffs argued that Johnson & Johnson covered up knowledge of asbestos in its talcum powder products for some 40 years instead of including that information on a warning label. In October, a judge reversed two verdicts in favor of the company. "The multiple errors present in this trial were worse than those in the prior trials which have been reversed".

J&J sought to protect the image of Baby Powder as "their sacred cow", he said.

Plaintiffs' lawyer Mark Lanier (left), said that Johnson & Johnson knew asbestos was in their products.

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The latest case is one of a string of legal claims revolving around the alleged presence of asbestos in the talc Johnson & Johnson puts in products such as baby powder.

"This was a new theory and the jury lined up behind it", Eggen said.

The jury awarded the $550 million (around Rs 3,800 crore) to the petitioners, who had claimed that the asbestos found in the product was carcinogenic. However, Johnson & Johnson denies asbestos features in its own products. Valeant now faces suits over the body powder.

The women who sued, whose jobs range from school bus driver to executive director of a job-retraining program, come from states including Pennsylvania, California, Arizona and NY. Six of the 22 women died.

Of the 22 women in the St. Louis trial, 17 were from outside Missouri, a state generally regarded as friendly towards plaintiffs.

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The consumer and pharmaceuticals giant plans to appeal the verdict. Several other cases have involved sizeable damages, including a $417 million verdict reached by jurors in Los Angeles County Superior Court a year ago.

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