Johnson & Johnson lost in baby powder lawsuit; $2.2 bn to be paid for damages

by Shatakshi Gupta

Johnson and Johnson, the giant pharmaceutical company is recently in news, as the US court had given its verdict according to which the company has to pay around total of $2.2 billion as the compensatory charges, along with the punitive charges against the suit made by a lady against this company’s baby talcum powder. As per the complainant, the baby talcum powder manufactured by this company worsened her condition causing her ovarian cancer. Also, after the further investigation into this matter, it was found that this baby talc powder contained in it small amounts of asbestos, which is a carcinogenic substance.

The decision by the Missouri Court of Appeals cut by more than half the $4.4 billion a jury had awarded 22 people in 2018. The court agreed that some of the plaintiffs should not have been included in the case as they were from outside the state.

“Plaintiffs proved with convincing clarity that defendants engaged in outrageous conduct because of an evil motive or reckless indifference,” the court said. “There was significant reprehensibility in defendants’ conduct.”

But the Tuesday decision upheld the awarding of damages for the company “knowingly selling products that contained asbestos to consumers.” “Because defendants are large, multi-billion-dollar corporations, we believe a large amount of punitive damages is necessary to have an effect in this case,” the judgement said.

“It is impossible to place monetary value on the physical, mental and emotional anguish plaintiffs suffered because of their injury caused by defendants.”

A spokeswoman for Johnson & Johnson said the company would appeal the decision in the Supreme Court of Missouri, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“We continue to believe this was a fundamentally flawed trial, grounded in a faulty presentation of the facts,” spokeswoman Kim Montagnino said. “We deeply sympathise with anyone suffering from cancer, which is why the facts are so important. We remain confident that our talc is safe, asbestos free, and does not cause cancer.”

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Johnson & Johnson had been facing thousands of lawsuits even in the past, specifically across the United States alleging that the company failed to warn its consumers about the risk of cancer that can be caused through the carcinogenic asbestos found in its talc-based products.

In 2019 a California jury became the latest to award millions in damages to a plaintiff who said the company’s baby powder had given her terminal cancer.

The previous month company also made an announcement about, discontinuing production of its talc-based baby powder in the US and Canada, due to the “constant barrage of litigation advertising” over its product. But it also further stated that it will continue to sell the product in the rest of the world.