Publicado: Sáb, Julio 14, 2018
Salud | Por Gertrudes Rodriquez

Johnson & Johnson told to pay $4.7bn in powder case

Johnson & Johnson told to pay $4.7bn in powder case

The jury announced the $4.14 billion award in punitive damages shortly after awarding $550 million in compensatory damages after a six-week trial in St. Louis Circuit Court.

The US Food and Drug Administration had commissioned a study of a variety of talc samples, including J&J, from 2009 to 2010.

"Johnson & Johnson is deeply disappointed in the verdict, which was the product of a fundamentally unfair process", it said in a statement.

The plaintiff's lawyers claimed that the asbestos fibers, used in the talc, entered the womens' bodies as they had been using the product for decades.

Mark Lanier, the lawyer for the women, in a statement following the verdict called on J&J to pull its talc products from the market "before causing further anguish, harm, and death from a bad disease". J&J denies both that its talc products cause cancer and that they ever contained asbestos.

Plaintiffs' lawyer Mark Lanier (left), said that Johnson & Johnson knew asbestos was in their products. Several other legal challenges by J&J are pending.

Under the Supreme Court guidelines the $4 billion punitive award in St. Louis would likely be considered "excessive", said Anthony Sabino, law professor at St. John's University in NY. "That may be a harbinger of things to come and there are many more ovarian cancer cases than asbestos cases tied to the powder".

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'The result of the verdict, which awarded the exact same amounts to all plaintiffs irrespective of their individual facts, and differences in applicable law, reflects that the evidence in the case was simply overwhelmed by the prejudice of this type of proceeding'. In a press release, he said he hoped the verdict would bring attention to the alleged dangers of asbestos-containing talcum powder.

Johnson & Johnson said in the past no warning label is necessary because there is no concern about their product. However, the prosecution in this case argued that J&J and the FDA's tests were flawed.

Doctors have noticed that talc particles have been in cancer tumors for decades, but it's been unclear how the contamination happened and if it led to the cancer. Johnson & Johnson remains confident that its products do not contain asbestos and do not cause ovarian cancer and intends to pursue all available appellate remedies. A Missouri appeals court tossed out a $55 million verdict in June citing jurisdictional issues.

A separate but related set of lawsuits suggest Johnson & Johnson's powder is contaminated with asbestos. Five plaintiffs were from Missouri, with others from states that include Arizona, New York, North Dakota, California, Georgia, the Carolinas and Texas. The company has won other ovarian cancer cases in New Jersey and St. Louis.

"American studies of personal use of talcum powder have had mixed results, although there is some suggestion of a possible increase in ovarian cancer risk", the organization says.

Punitive damages are additional punishments levied against a defendant to prevent similar actions in the future.

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