Johnson & Johnson hit with $72m damages in talc-cancer case
A jury in the US state of Missouri has ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $72m (£51m) to the family of a woman who claimed her death was linked to use of the company”s Baby Powder talc.
Jackie Fox from Birmingham, Alabama died of ovarian cancer last year, aged 62, having used the talc for decades.
Her family”s lawyers argued that the firm knew of cancer risks from the product and failed to warn consumers.
Johnson & Johnson denied the claim and is said to be considering an appeal.
A spokesman said: “We have no higher responsibility than the health and safety of consumers, and we are disappointed with the outcome of the trial.
“We sympathise with the plaintiff”s family but firmly believe the safety of cosmetic talc is supported by decades of scientific evidence.”
Other cases pending
The verdict at the end of the three-week trial was the first time damages have been awarded by a US jury over talc claims.
More than 1,000 similar cases are pending nationwide and lawyers said thousands more could now be filed.
The jury in Ms Fox”s case deliberated for five hours before finding Johnson & Johnson liable for fraud, negligence and conspiracy.
The award constituted $10m in damages and $62m in punitive damages.
“This case clearly was a bellwether and clearly the jury has seen the evidence and found it compelling,” said Stanford University law professor Nora Freeman Engstrom. “The jury was distressed by the company”s conduct.”
However, she said the size of the award was unlikely to survive.
“Big jury verdicts do tend to be reined in during the course of the appellate process and I expect that to be the case here,” she said.