Johnson & Johnson must pay at least $550 million in damages to women who claimed asbestos in the company’s talc products caused them to develop ovarian cancer, a St. Louis jury said.
After reaching a unanimous verdict Thursday to award compensatory damages for 22 plaintiffs that averaged $25 million apiece, jurors will resume deliberations over how much to award in punishment damages.
The women also sued a unit of Imerys SA, which supplied the talc to J&J. Imerys Talc America settled before trial on confidential terms. The company agreed to pay at least $5 million to settle the claims, according to two persons familiar with the matter.
Johnson & Johnson issued the following statement regarding today’s verdict in the St. Louis court.
“Johnson & Johnson is deeply disappointed in the verdict, which was the product of a fundamentally unfair process that allowed plaintiffs to present a group of 22 women, most of whom had no connection to Missouri, in a single case all alleging that they developed ovarian cancer. 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 remains confident that its products do not contain asbestos and do not cause ovarian cancer and intends to pursue all available appellate remedies. Every verdict against Johnson & Johnson in this court that has gone through the appeals process has been reversed and the multiple errors present in this trial were worse than those in the prior trials which have been reversed.”