November 11, 2020

$2.12 Billion Talc Verdict Against Johnson & Johnson Upheld

The Missouri Supreme Court has rejected Johnson and Johnson’s appeal of a $2.12 billion verdict entered against them in favor of 22 women alleging their ovarian cancer was caused by exposure to talc. The state’s highest court refused to take up the appeal by J&J, thereby affirming a decision by the Missouri Court of Appeals.

The appeals court upheld the jury’s finding that Johnson and Johnson was liable for the plaintiffs’ development of ovarian cancer while cutting the damages award from $4.69 billion to $2.12 billion. A Missouri jury had decided in 2018 that Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder and Shower to Shower talc products gave 22 women ovarian cancer.

The Missouri Court of Appeals ruled that the plaintiffs “proved with convincing clarity that defendants engaged in outrageous conduct because of an evil motive or reckless indifference.” They held that the jury reasonably inferred from the evidence presented at trial that Johnson & Johnson “disregarded the safety of consumers” in pursuit of profits, despite knowing that its talcum powder products caused ovarian cancer.

While they reduced the punitive damages award in line with controlling Supreme Court precedent, they upheld the award of punitive damages, stating “[w]e find there was significant reprehensibility in Defendants’ conduct,” finding the plaintiffs introduced:

“[E]vidence that Defendants discussed the presence of asbestos in their talc in internal memoranda for several decades; avoided adopting more accurate measures for detecting asbestos and influenced the industry to do the same; attempted to discredit those scientists publishing studies unfavorable to their Products; and did not eliminate talc from the Products and use cornstarch instead because it would be more costly to do so.”

Johnson and Johnson faces thousands of trials nationwide over claims that its talc products caused cancer. In 2018 Reuters and the New York Times published extensive investigations into Johnson & Johnson’s knowledge that its talc contained asbestos, a known carcinogen. In March of 2020, the FDA released data from testing of multiple samples of talc powders including Johnson & Johnson’s which showed the presence of asbestos. Following those reports, Johnson & Johnson withdrew its talc-based powders in May 2020 from the United States and Canadian markets, although they still sell talc products in the rest of the world.

Johnson & Johnson has announced plans to appeal this case to the United States Supreme Court.

Anyone who uses talcum powder is recommended to switch to arrowroot, cornstarch, or any other non-talc powder. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer after using talcum powder, call the talc powder lawyers at Thornton Law Firm for a confidential, no-charge consultation. Call 1-888-341-1405 or tell us your story online for a thorough, comprehensive evaluation of your legal rights. If you have developed ovarian cancer and believe your cancer is related to your use of baby powder, Shower to Shower powder, or other talc powder, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible. Do not delay seeking legal advice; the courts apply strict time limits to all legal claims.

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