Friday, 22 March, 2019

California jury orders J&J to pay $29m in latest talc cancer trial

Johnson and Johnson lawsuit payout California jury orders J&J to pay US$29 million in latest talc cancer trial
Priscilla Morrison | 16 March, 2019, 08:48

A California jury on Wednesday awarded $29 million to a woman who said that asbestos in Johnson & Johnson's talcum-powder-based products caused her cancer. The verdict said that the baby powder was a "substantial contributing factor" in her illness.

A court in the USA state of California ordered Johnson & Johnson to compensate a woman to the tune of $29 million for cancer complications she developed from using the company's talcum powder, according to media reports. Most health-care companies performed well, but Johnson & Johnson struggled with claims that its talc baby powder contained the carcinogen asbestos. It was the first of more than a dozen Johnson & Johnson powder cases scheduled for trial in 2019.

The nine-week trial began on January 7 and included testimony from almost a dozen experts on both sides.

In a statement, the company said it would appeal against the verdict citing that "serious procedural and evidentiary errors" took place during the trial.

In December, the New York Times reported that for years, Johnson & Johnson executives anxious that their talc-based products would one day be linked to asbestos. After two days of deliberation, the jury found that J&J talc-based products were defective and caused Leavitt's mesothelioma, and that the company had failed to warn consumers about the risks.

The jury awarded Leavitt $22 million for her pain and suffering, $5 million to compensate her family members, almost $1.3 million for her medical costs and $1.2 million for her lost wages, according to her lawyer.

More news: New Zealand shooting: suspect Brenton Tarrant in court charged with murder

The verdict is J&J's seventh trial loss over claims it hid the health risks of its baby powder for 50 years.

J&J has appealed all of the plaintiff verdicts, and the company said that it is confident the verdicts would be overturned on appeal. "Talc does not cause cancer".

"Hundreds of internal J&J documents showed the truth that it has been hiding for years".

A unit of J&J also recently invested in a public gene-therapy firm. It said the woman's lawyers failed to show that the baby powder contained asbestos.

The company has insisted that its talc-based products are demonstrably safe but it has lost a string of court cases.

In July 2018, a jury in Missouri ordered the pharmaceutical company to pay $4.7 billion (Rs 32,169 crore) in damages to 22 women who alleged that they had developed ovarian cancer after using the company's talc products. Looking at the downside, it is entirely possible that the lifetime's worth of sales of Johnson's Baby Powder could be far lower than total damages over time if these cases end up going against the company.

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