A jury awarded almost $US4.7 billion in total damages to 22 women and their families who claimed asbestos in Johnson & Johnson talcum powder contributed to their ovarian cancer in the first case against the company that focused on asbestos in the powder.
The women claimed the asbestos in the company's talc-based powders contributed to the development of their ovarian cancer. The company said it was deeply disappointed with the verdict, saying it was part of a "fundamentally unfair process" that grouped the women together and awarded them the same amount despite differences in their cases.
The company "rigged" tests to avoid showing the presence of asbestos, Lanier said.
Elizabeth Burch, a law professor at the University of Georgia, said that even under the new Supreme Court guidance, the women's claim that they used the specific product, if true, provided "a pretty strong link to Missouri". After attorneys fees, the state of Missouri takes a whopping 50% of punitive damage awards and keeps the money for itself under this state law, which appears to apply to this type of punitive damage award.
The verdict follows several others against J&J; judges have nixed three in appeals. These fibers aren't asbestos but harmless mineral fragments, he said. Mr Lanier said at the trial that flawed testing methods which did not allow for the proper detection of asbestos had been used.
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The cases that went to trial in St. Louis effectively combine those claims by alleging asbestos-contaminated talc caused ovarian cancer.
Noah said Missouri judges have historically applied a lower standard than federal court for admitting scientific evidence.
Six of the women have died; nearly all of the rest, along with friends and relatives, were in the courtroom Thursday.
A 2009-2010 testing by the US Food and Drug Administration also found no trace of asbestos.
Johnson's baby powder remains stocked at a supermarket shelf on August 22, 2017 in Alhambra, California, where a Los Angeles jury on August 21 ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay a record $417 million to a woman in hospital who sued the company. Two of those plaintiffs' verdicts, one for $72 million and the other for $55 million, have been erased on appeal on jurisdictional grounds.
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The jury heard testimony from cancer survivors in the case and their families. Another mesothelioma case in late May ended in a mistrial.
It's been a bad week for companies trying to fight off lawsuits claiming that their products cause cancer. This will be one of the elements challenged by Johnson & Johnson at appeal.
The $4.69 billion award is the largest jury award in the United States this year, Bloomberg reported.
Jurors announced the award for compensatory damages Thursday in a lawsuit that included 22 plaintiffs.
This is the largest damages Johnson & Johnson has faced to date among about 9,000 similar cases.
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