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Jury Returns $4.7B Verdict Against Johnson & Johnson In Asbestos-Laced Talcum Case

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Jury Returns $4.7B Verdict Against Johnson & Johnson In Asbestos-Laced Talcum Case
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Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) plunged 2.4 percent in futures trading after a U.S. Circuit Court awarded nearly $4.7 billion to 22 patients and caregivers who linked cases of ovarian cancer to asbestos-laden talcum powder.

What Happened

The Thursday verdict — the largest yet for Johnson & Johnson since first faced allegations of carcinogenic products — hit the company $550 million in compensatory damages and an additional $4.14 billion in punitive damages.

The pharmaceutical company said it was “deeply disappointed” in the outcome and called the trial process “fundamentally unfair.”

"The result of the verdict, which awarded the exact same amounts to all plaintiffs irrespective of their individual facts, and differences in applicable law, reflects that the evidence in the case was simply overwhelmed by the prejudice of this type of proceeding,” Johnson & Johnson said in a press release.

Why It’s Important

The plaintiffs’ lead counsel claimed Johnson & Johnson knew of the asbestos contamination but failed to inform the public for 40 years. So far, the firm is tangled in about 9,000 other talcum powder cases, which could result in similarly painful charges.

“The company should pull talc from the market before causing further anguish, harm and death from a terrible disease,” attorney Mark Lanier said in a press release. “J&J sells the same powders in a marvelously safe cornstarch variety. If J&J insists on continuing to sell talc, they should mark it with a serious warning."

What’s Next

Maintaining that its products do not contain asbestos or cause ovarian cancer, Johnson & Johnson committed to pursuing “all available appellate remedies.” The firm is emboldened by earlier verdicts that were reversed on appeal. 

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