Yes, you read that right. Yesterday, a St. Louis jury awarded $4.7 billion to 22 women who were part of a class-action lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson. Each of the women suffer from ovarian cancer, and allege that asbestos in Johnson & Johnson's baby powder is the cause.
After a six-week trial, the jury decided that the company would pay $4.14 billion in punitive damages, plus $550 million in compensatory damages. In the end, the women and their families walked away with $213 million each. Sadly, six of the 22 plaintiffs have died from ovarian cancer.
According to the Los Angeles Times, it was alleged during the trial that Johnson & Johnson has covered up asbestos in their products for over 40 years. Testing confirmed that the mineral talc in their Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products contained asbestos, and the same particles were discovered in many of the womens' ovarian tissues.
Nowhere on their packaging does it warn consumers about the cancer-causing elements in their products. Johnson & Johnson is facing 9,000 other lawsuits from women with similar claims. Still, they continue to deny any traces of asbestos in their products.
“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,” says their company spokesperson.
They say that all of their products undergo rigorous testing and purification to ensure that their product is clean and safe to use. Johnson & Johnson says they're "deeply disappointed in the verdict, which was the product of a fundamentally unfair process."
The plaintiff's lawyer stated that J&J should pull their baby powder from the shelves "before causing further anguish, harm, and death from a terrible disease." If nothing else, the product should come with a serious warning label.
Company shares have dropped significantly since the verdict was announced, there's no question that the entire J&J brand will suffer greatly as a result. They're going to have to put an outstanding PR campaign together to ever have a shot at earning their consumers' trust back.
Source: LA Times