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Expect More Big Talcum Powder Jury Verdicts Due To J&J’s Lack of Credibility: Analyst Warns

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Following a number of massive jury verdicts in talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits, a recent investment analysis warns that the trend is likely to continue, due Johnson & Johnson’s lack of credibility at trial.

The stock market and financial analysis website Seeking Alpha published a report for investors on September 7, noting that Johnson & Johnson has lost four out of the first six jury trials over claims that regular use of Johnson’s Baby Powder or Shower-to-Shower body powder caused adult women to develop ovarian cancer.

In what is described as a “battle of credibility” over the link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer, the analyst notes that the trend is likely to continue and that Johnson & Johnson will face more sizable verdicts in the future as additional cases go to trial.

The report comes following a recent award of $417 million to a woman who developed cancer, following trial before a California jury last month. The verdict included $347 million in punitive damages, which were designed to punish the manufacturer for failing to warn consumers about the risks associated with applying the powder around the genitals.

That verdict came after prior jury awards in Missouri state court of $110 million in May 2017, $70 million in November 2016, $55 million in May 2016 and $72 million in February 2016.

With another Missouri jury trial that is set to begin next month, and a steady stream of additional cases likely to go before juries over the next year, Johnson & Johnson could face staggering liability in the thousands of additional cases remaining .

“Unfortunately for JNJ shareholders, the lack of scientific consensus has turned the lawsuit in a battle of credibility,” the Seeking Alpha analysis notes. “Do jurors believe the sympathetic lady diagnosed with ovarian cancer? Or do jurors believe a multi-billion dollar corporation that has faced multiple scandals, already lost similar cases and is quoting from studies which it has financed? Clearly, it is the former.”

The analysis suggests that there is a lack of scientific consensus in the medical field over the link between talcum powder used for feminine hygiene and the risk of ovarian cancer. However, it also notes that the studies cited in Johnson & Johnson’s defense were often funded by Johnson & Johnson itself, which makes them more difficult for juries to trust.

In addition to Johnson’s Baby Powder lawsuits and Shower-to-Shower lawsuits pending in Missouri and California state courts, cases on behalf of more than 2,500 plaintiffs are pending in the federal court system, where the litigation has been centralized before U.S. District Judge Freda L. Wolfson in the District of New Jersey for coordinated pretrial discovery and a series of bellwether trials.

Each of the complaints raise similar allegations, indicating that talc contained in the products may migrate through the vagina and increase the risk of ovarian cancer. Although plaintiffs point to studies and evidence that suggest Johnson & Johnson knew about the risk, the manufacturer continued to push use of talcum powder among adult women for “personal freshness.”

Despite the mounting litigation and large verdicts, Johnson & Johnson has refused to negotiate talcum powder cancer settlements so far, indicating that it will continue to defend claims in courts nationwide.

The analysis notes that if Johnson & Johnson loses only 10% of the remaining 4,800 cases, it would cost the company about $34 billion. However, Johnson & Johnson is losing cases at a rate of two-to-one, making such losses an extremely conservative estimate, the article notes.

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