Johnson & Johnson vows to appeal $4.7 billion talcum products verdict

Bottles of Johnson & Johnson baby powder line a drugstore shelf in New York

Bottles of Johnson & Johnson baby powder line a drugstore shelf in New York

The jury earlier ordered J&J to pay them US$550 million in compensatory damages, bringing the total to US$4.69 billion.

Most of the women in St Louis trial used baby powder, but others used Shower-to-Shower, another of Johnson & Johnson's talc-based products.

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".

Johnson & Johnson vehemently denies that their product is unsafe and vowed to appeal the verdict.

The women also sued a unit of Imerys SA, which supplied the talc to Johnson & Johnson.

Elizabeth Burch, a law professor at the University of Georgia, said that even under the new Supreme Court guidance, the women's claim that they used the specific product, if true, provided "a pretty strong link to Missouri".

The affected women claim that Johnson & Johnson's Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products have been laced with cancer-causing asbestos "for decades".

Talc, the world's softest rock, is a mineral closely linked to asbestos and the two substances can appear in close proximity in the earth. The watchdog did not find asbestos contamination.

Mark Lanier, lead counsel for the plaintiffs, said in a statement that Johnson & Johnson had covered up evidence of asbestos in their products for more than 40 years, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Johnson & Johnson "rigged" tests to avoid showing the presence of asbestos, Mr. Lanier said.

"Faced with all this, what does the company do?" They need to know what's going on. "Don't let them get off".

John Beisner, a lawyer for Johnson & Johnson, said, "One of the hardest things will be prioritizing what to appeal first". Bicks asked. "Does that make common sense, when Johnson & Johnson is doing all this testing?" "But just because something bad happened doesn't mean Johnson & Johnson had anything to do with it".

This isn't the first time that J&J has squared off against customers who claimed they developed cancer from using its products: Just past year, a California court ordered it to pay a record $417 million to a woman who claimed she developed terminal ovarian cancer from talc-based products.

"Johnson & Johnson remains confident that its products do not contain asbestos and do not cause ovarian cancer and intends to pursue all available appellate remedies", it said.

Mark Lanier, the lawyer for the women, in a statement following the verdict called on J&J to pull its talc products from the market "before causing further anguish, harm, and death from a awful disease". J&J sells the same powders in a marvelously safe corn starch variety. On Thursday, Lanier highlighted results he said showed asbestos both in talc mines and the baby powder itself.

Although J&J has fought suits blaming cancer on its iconic baby powder in the past, investors haven't reacted to courtroom losses. According to the American Cancer Society, in its natural form, it may contain asbestos, which, when inhaled, may cause cancer in the lungs.

It's clear that most cases will never be tried, but verdicts in initial trials are likely to strongly influence the size of settlements of many other cases.

But several other settlements have been affirmed with more cases pending. Valeant now faces suits over the body powder. Colgate has settled some lawsuits, including a mesothelioma case just prior to the start of the scheduled trial this week in Los Angeles.

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