Johnson & Johnson on 12 July was ordered to pay $US4.69 billion to 22 women and their families who had claimed that asbestos in the company’s talcum powder products caused them to develop ovarian cancer.
A jury in a Missouri circuit court awarded $4.14 billion in punitive damages and $550 million in compensatory damages to the women, who had accused the company of failing to warn them about cancer risks associated with its baby and body powders.
Johnson & Johnson, the maker of Johnson’s Baby Powder, said it was “deeply disappointed” in the verdict and planned to appeal.
The company is facing more than 9,000 plaintiffs in cases involving body powders with talc, according to a regulatory document filed this northern-hemisphere spring.
After a six-week trial, the jury in St Louis deliberated over the compensatory damages for eight hours but decided on the punitive damages in roughly 45 minutes.
Six of the women have died and one of the plaintiffs is undergoing chemotherapy and was too ill to attend the court.
It was alleged Johnson & Johnson had spent 40 years covering up evidence of asbestos in some of its talcum-based products and should mark those products with warning labels or focus on powders made with cornstarch.
The punitive damages are among the largest ever awarded in
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