Johnson & Johnson's baby powder. (Photo: Mike Mozart/Flickr) Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder. (Photo: Mike Mozart/Flickr)

 

Johnson & Johnson was hit with a record $110 million verdict Thursday in the fifth trial over the safety of its talcum powder.

After more than a day in deliberations, a jury in Missouri state court came back with the verdict, which includes $105 million in punitive damages against Johnson & Johnson and $50,000 against talc supplier Imerys Talc America Inc., according to video coverage provided by Courtroom View Network.

The defeat breaks a winning streak for Johnson & Johnson, which won its first talc trial earlier this year and, on Tuesday, scored a defense verdict in the first bellwether trial over blood thinner Xarelto. The verdict also surpasses the sums awarded by other Missouri juries, who last year came out with verdicts of $55 million$70 million and $72 million.


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Johnson & Johnson spokeswoman Carol Goodrich said in a statement that the company would begin the appeals process, citing the “lack of credible scientific evidence behind plaintiffs’ allegations.”

“We are preparing for additional trials this year and will continue to defend the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder,” she added.

Missing from court this time was Johnson & Johnson’s defense team in the prior talc trial, Bart Williams and Manuel Cachán of Proskauer Rose in Los Angeles. Orlando Richmond of Butler Snow’s Jackson, Mississippi, office handled this month’s trial along with Shook, Hardy & Bacon and Covington & Burling Washington, D.C., partners Phyllis Jones and Paul Schmidt.

Lois Slemp, 61, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012 after four decades of using Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder and Shower to Shower products.

Plaintiffs attorneys, led by Allen Smith of The Smith Law Firm and Ted Meadows of Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles in Montgomery, Alabama, told the jury that the defendants failed to tell the public about a known scientific link between talcum powder use and ovarian cancer despite 30 years of studies and evidence.

Unlike in prior trials, Smith said that asbestos—not just talcum powder—was found in Slemp’s ovarian tissue.

“Once again we’ve shown that these companies ignored the scientific evidence and continue to deny their responsibilities to the women of America,” Meadows said in a statement. He added: “I hope this verdict prompts J&J to acknowledge the facts and help educate the medical community and the public about the proper use of their products.”

The talc litigation consists of nearly two dozen cases in Missouri state court, where more than 1,000 claims are pending. Another 200 individual suits are currently pending in a federal multidistrict litigation proceeding in New Jersey, and about 350 lawsuits have been filed in state courts in California, New Jersey and Delaware.