$70 million Verdict Over Baby Powder
After having two New Jersey lawsuits previously dismissed against the company in September, Johnson & Johnson is now facing a verdict handed down by a St. Louis jury for $70 million. Similar to the two New Jersey lawsuits, the claim against the baby powder company was that the use of the company’s product caused a woman to develop ovarian cancer. While the Plaintiff was arguing for more than $285 million total, the jury awarded $575,000 in economic damages, $2 million in compensatory damages, and $65 million in punitive damages to her. Additionally, Johnson & Johnson was required to pay $65 million in punitive damages. Following the decision, Johnson & Johnson announced it would appeal.
Earlier this year, Johnson & Johnson was faced with two other St. Louis lawsuits in which the company was required to pay a combined $127 million. However, the current decision came as a surprise to the company following their successful dismissal of the two New Jersey lawsuits.
The defense of Johnson & Johnson centered on published studies of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which were unable to find a link between the baby powder use and ovarian cancer. Although Johnson & Johnson relied heavily on those studies, the plaintiff in the action was able to provide experts that claimed there was a link between the product’s use and ovarian cancer.
Law360 reports that Johnson & Johnson’s attorney, David E. Dukes, believed that the jury’s decision may have come in part from a lack of trust of government agencies. In his closing argument he stated that the studies of the governmental agencies should still be given substantial weight even though “sometimes we don’t trust federal agencies, particularly during the political season.” Johnson & Johnson maintains that the studies of the agencies is on their side, and their appeal of the verdict will point to result in the New Jersey lawsuits dismissed.
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