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A Missouri state court judge has upheld a jury verdict of $4.7 billion awarded 22 women diagnosed with ovarian cancer from talcum powder, indicating that evidence presented at trial was sufficient to justify the landmark verdict, given the “reprehensible conduct” of Johnson & Johnson.
The award was originally handed down in July, following a consolidated trial before a St. Louis jury involving women who each allege they developed ovarian cancer following years of applying Johnson’s Baby Powder, Shower-to-Shower or other talc-based products around their genitals.
After considering evidence that indicates Johnson & Johnson has known for decades about the link between talc and ovarian cancer, the jury ruled that the company should pay $550 million in compensatory damages to the women, as well as another $4.14 billion in punitive damages, which was designed to punish Johnson & Johnson and deter similar gross misconduct in the future.
Johnson & Johnson was dealt another massive blow on Wednesday, when the judge who presided over the trial rejected the company’s argument that the verdict should be overturned, indicating that the full amount of the compensatory and punitive damages awarded were supported by the evidence presented to the jury.
The case has been closely watched, as similar evidence and testimony is likely to be presented in thousands of other Baby powder lawsuits and Shower-to-Shower lawsuits pending against Johnson & Johnson by women nationwide, each involving allegations that side effects of talcum powder resulted in ovarian cancer, mesothelioma or other injuries.
While Johnson & Johnson is certain to appeal the decision, the news comes days after a special report by Reuters found internal documents showed Johnson & Johnson knew of the presence of asbestos in talcum powder for decades, potentially since the 1950s.
Since the report was published on December 14, Johnson & Johnson’s stock price has plummeted about nine percent, wiping out $30 billion of the company’s market value, amid investor concerns about liability the company may face from the current litigation, as well as damage to the reputation of the company.
There are currently more than 10,000 cases pending in the talcum powder ovarian cancer litigation, and the verdict this summer is the latest in a series of massive jury awards over the past few years.
In May, a California jury ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $25.7 million in a talc mesothelioma case. In April, a New Jersey jury awarded $117 million to a man diagnosed with mesothelioma due to exposure from talcum powder. That verdict included $80 million in punitive damages.
In December 2017, a talc powder case went to trial in California, resulted in a jury award of $17.57 million in compensatory damages and $4.6 million in punitive damages, for the family of man who died of mesothelioma in 2016, after years of exposure to talc.
While Johnson & Johnson is pursuing appeals in each of the cases that resulted in a verdict, and is refusing to negotiate talcum powder settlements, some analysts have suggested that the recent verdicts are a sign that juries find Johnson & Johnson’s trial defense lacking in credibility.