Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson has set aside almost $4 billion to cover the biggest verdict against the company over its Baby Powder and other settlements while it’s appealing the 2018 loss to the U.S. Supreme Court. According to Bloomberg, in a securities filing, the company said it was taking a “litigation expense of $3.9 billion” related to “primarily talc-related reserves and certain settlements.”
Landmark Verdict in Talc Case
It also said J&J now faces 25,000 lawsuits from consumers who claim that the asbestos-tainted talc in the Baby Powder products caused their cancers. That is nearly a 39% increase in the number of cases from last year. J&J has reserved some of the money for a 2018 Missouri verdict for 20 women who blamed the company’s talcum powders for their ovarian cancer. Their $4.7 billion verdict was later cut to $2.1 billion and the company has appealed.
The Missouri Supreme Court in November refused to hear J&J’s arguments that the reduced verdict was “flawed and excessive.” The company is now asking the U.S. Supreme Court to throw the award out entirely. The original verdict was one of the largest punitive damage awards in U.S. legal history. It is also significant to note that the verdict came from Missouri, one of the most conservative courts in the country.
The women in the St. Louis case cited internal J&J documents from the early 1970s indicating officials found traces of asbestos in their talc products, but never made those findings public. J&J contends its talc products are safe and not contaminated by asbestos. However, the company pulled its talc-based baby powder off the shelves in the United States and Canada last year.
Justice for Victims and Families
As product defect attorneys who represent the rights of consumers who have developed cancers as a result of using these talcum powder products, we truly hope the U.S. Supreme Court upholds the revised award. Not only is this justice for the affected victims and their families, but it is also an appropriate penalty for J&J’s negligence.
We have seen internal documents and memos over many trials, which clearly show that the company knew these products were dangerous. But, they continued to make them, sell them and aggressively market them to consumers instead of warning people and telling the truth about these products. We hope justice is served.