J&J loses bid to throw out $4bn asbestos court verdict

By Becky Bargh | Published: 24-Jun-2020

The 2018 decision ordered the personal care conglomerate to pay out the sum to 22 women and their families who claimed its baby powder products contained cancer-causing material

Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has lost a bid to overturn a Missouri jury verdict, which ordered the firm to pay out US$4.6bn to 22 women.

The women and their families sued the personal care conglomerate in 2018 over claims asbestos in its baby powder caused their ovarian cancer.

According to Reuters, the court confirmed the plaintiffs had proven that J&J, and an affiliate, concealed that its talc products contained asbestos and “worked tirelessly” to ensure tests would not detect the substance in its samples.

The court said: “Plaintiffs proved with convincing clarity that defendants engaged in outrageous conduct because of an evil motive or reckless indifference.”

However, despite the “significant reprehensibility” in J&J’s conduct, the court agreed to halve the damages to $2.1bn.

In a statement to Cosmetics Business, J&J said: “We are grateful to the court for their time. However, we continue to believe this was a fundamentally flawed trial, grounded in a faulty presentation of the facts, and will pursue further review of this case by the Supreme Court of Missouri. “We deeply sympathise with anyone suffering from cancer, which is why the facts are so important. We remain confident that our talc is safe, asbestos-free and does not cause cancer.“

Yesterday’s announcement follows J&J’s decision to stop selling its talc-based baby powder products in the US last month.

In recent years, the company has faced a torrent of lawsuits claiming its products contain cancer-causing asbestos.

However, J&J claims “changes in consumer habits” had fuelled the decision to pull the product.

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