A St. Louis jury has awarded $550 million in actual damages and an additional $4.14 billion in punitive damages to the 22 women who alleged Johnson & Johnson talcum powder products caused them to develop ovarian cancer. The trial started June 6 in the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis, Missouri. The plaintiffs accused J&J and its talc supplier, Imerys Talc America, of concealing the fact that their talc was contaminated with asbestos.
Mark Lanier of Lanier Law Firm was the lead attorney representing the plaintiffs in this very important case.
“Johnson & Johnson has known for years that its talc products cause cancer. They can no longer hide this evil conduct from the American people,” said Beasley Allen Founder Jere Beasley. “Somebody with J&J needs to go to jail!”
Just before the trial started, Imerys reached a settlement with the plaintiffs. The terms of the settlement weren’t revealed. Imerys didn’t acknowledge that its talc was tainted or contributed to the women’s cancer. The settlement dismissed Imerys from the case, leaving J&J responsible for today’s verdict.
The jury held J&J and its subsidiary Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. liable for strict liability and negligence. They awarded an average of $25 million to each woman suing individually and $12.5 million to each woman who sued together with her husband. Punitive damages include $3.15 billion against J&J and $990 million against J&J Consumer.
The companies, particularly Johnson & Johnson, have faced similar lawsuits alleging their talc contained asbestos and that using products like Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower on the genitals for feminine hygiene can cause ovarian cancer. The companies have also been named in lawsuits alleging the asbestos-contaminated talc also causes mesothelioma, a rare and deadly form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure.
In April, Imerys and Johnson & Johnson were hit with a $117 million verdict in a case that alleged the companies’ talc caused a man to develop mesothelioma. Imerys was liable for 30 percent of those damages while Johnson & Johnson was given 70 percent of the blame.
Despite an appeal, at the end of June New Jersey Superior Court Judge Ana C. Viscomi ruled that claims the companies’ talc products were contaminated with cancer-causing asbestos and contributed to the man’s deadly disease did “not shock the judicial conscience,” and would stand.
J&J has lost four cases and Imerys has lost two over ovarian cancer that were tried in state court in St. Louis during a 15-month period starting in February 2016.
The consolidated case is Ingham v. Johnson & Johnson, in the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis, Missouri; Cause No. 1522-CC10417-01, Division Ten.