Talcum powder lawsuit plaintiffs are pushing back against Johnson & Johnson’s attempts to reverse their $4.7 billion ovarian cancer verdict, arguing that the company’s shady behavior justified the massive award.
The 22 plaintiffs – including the families of 6 women who died from ovarian cancer – were each awarded $25 million when their case concluded last July in Missouri’s 22nd Circuit Court.
The total verdict — $550 million in compensatory damages and $4.14 billion in punitive damages – is the largest so far in a nationwide litigation involving Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based powders. It was also the first ovarian cancer trial centered around allegations of asbestos-tainted talc.
Johnson & Johnson vehemently denies that its talcum powders contain asbestos or cause cancer. In recent weeks, its attorneys have filed post-trial motions seeking a new trial, a new trial on damages, and a judgment notwithstanding the verdict in a bid to see the jury’s findings reversed.
Among other things, the motions claim that the plaintiffs’ attorneys made deceptive, inflammatory, and prejudicial statements to sway the jury.
According to Law.com, opposition documents filed last week denied those assertions. Among other things, the plaintiffs’ lawyers argued that the jury’s verdict was warranted by Johnson & Johnson’s decade’s long-refusal to warn consumers that its popular talcum powders might cause ovarian cancer.
“Defendants knew there was asbestos in what they marketed as ‘baby’ powder, but they deliberately targeted mothers and women in general with advertising misrepresenting the safety of their talc product,” they wrote.
Johnson & Johnson is facing over 10,000 talcum powder cancer lawsuits in courts throughout the United States. The majority of plaintiffs involved in the Missouri litigation claim that they developed ovarian cancer merely as a result of their regular and repeated use of the company’s talc-based powders for feminine hygiene purposes.
Missouri has tried six of these cases since February 2015. Four juries have found for plaintiffs, although two of those verdicts were dismissed on jurisdictional grounds.
Johnson & Johnson is also a defendant in a growing number of talcum powder lawsuits over mesothelioma, a deadly cancer linked to asbestos exposure.
So far, mesothelioma plaintiffs have won two trials, including a California case that concluded in May with a $25 million verdict. A month earlier, a New Jersey jury ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $117 million to another mesothelioma plaintiff.
Two juries have returned verdicts in favor of Johnson & Johnson, while mistrials were declared in two other cases.