Johnson & Johnson ordered to pay $300 million in talc cancer case

Johnson & Johnson ordered to pay $300 million in talc cancer case
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A New York jury on Friday ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $300 million in punitive damages to a woman who said her asbestos-related cancer was caused by the company’s talc-based baby powder, the company confirmed.

The decision brings the total amount awarded in the case to $325 million after the same jury earlier this month awarded Donna Olson and her husband $25 million in compensatory damages.

Olson developed mesothelioma — an aggressive cancer that is caused by exposure to asbestos.

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According to the couple’s attorney, Jerome Block, the jury rejected Johnson & Johnson’s claim that there was no asbestos in its talcum powder. The jury instead found the company had been aware of the presence of asbestos for decades, yet failed to warn consumers.

Johnson & Johnson has promised to appeal the verdict.

“This trial suffered significant legal and evidentiary errors which Johnson & Johnson believes will warrant a reversal on appeal. Decades of tests by independent experts and academic institutions repeatedly confirm that Johnson’s Baby Powder does not contain asbestos or cause cancer,” the company said in a statement to The Hill.

Of all the verdicts against Johnson & Johnson that have been through the appellate process, every one has been overturned,” the statement added.

Johnson & Johnson is facing thousands of lawsuits brought by plaintiffs who allege that talc in the company’s baby powder products contained asbestos and caused mesothelioma, ovarian cancer and other diseases.

The results have been mixed. In separate cases in 2018, a New Jersey jury awarded a total of $117 million dollars, and a California jury awarded a total of $29.5 million.

But a South Carolina jury concluded last week that the company’s baby powder does not contain asbestos and was not the cause of the plaintiff’s disease. Johnson & Johnson said it was the fifth verdict in the company’s favor in recent months.

Late last year, the company launched a national ad campaign defending itself following an investigation from Reuters that said the company knew for decades its talc baby powder contained traces of asbestos.