J&J hit with $29M verdict in California talc case

US Johnson & Johnson asked to pay $29 million to cancer patient who used its talcum powder

NBC reports the company has "lost a string of court cases", including one past year in Los Angeles, California, where a jury awarded a woman $25.7 million after claiming the baby powder caused her cancer.

The company is now fighting two asbestos-related lawsuits in New Jersey and Oklahoma courts, and two more trials could begin this month, the UBS analysts said.

J&J is battling 13,000 similar lawsuits across the country.

The plaintiff, Terry Leavitt, said she regularly used two J&J products in the 1960s and '70s containing talc.

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The nine-week trial began on Jan 7 and included testimony from almost a dozen experts on both sides.

"We are disappointed with today's verdict and will pursue an appeal because Johnson's Baby Powder does not contain asbestos or cause cancer", Johnson & Johnson spokeswoman Kim Montagnino said in a statement Wednesday.

A United States jury on Wednesday ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $29 million (Rs 202 crore) to a woman diagnosed with cancer, who alleged that the asbestos in the firm's talcum-powder-based products caused her disease, Reuters reported.

The jury deliberated for two days before delivering its verdict. The jury found that J&J knew about the potential risks that its baby powder was contaminated, but failed to warn the woman, Teresa Leavitt.

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Johnson & Johnson had refuted allegations that the product causes cancer and cited several studies and tests that to prove that its talc is safe.

J&J says its products do not contain asbestos. More than $4 billion of the jury award consisted of punitive damages, which are meant to punish a defendant for wrongdoing. 'The internal J&J documents that the jury saw, once more laid bare the shocking truth of decades of cover- up, deception and concealment by J&J'.

J&J attorneys asserted in court that there's no conclusive evidence talc caused Leavitt's mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma is a awful form of cancer (as if any form of cancer isn't terrible) and Johnson & Johnson will have to do a much better job of convincing juries that their products don't cause cancer. Judge Brad Seligman, who oversaw the trial, told jurors in February the company was no longer part of the case after it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection under the weight of the talc litigation, which stayed lawsuits against it.

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"It's not clear to us the read-through this case has to the other trials or that these decisions will be upheld on appeal (where the technical merits will likely find a more receptive audience than a jury)", the analysts wrote.

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