Johnson & Johnson has been ordered by a Missouri jury to pay $72m (€65.4m) damages to the family of a woman whose death from ovarian cancer was linked to her use of the company’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower for several decades.
Jurors in St Louis awarded the family of Jacqueline Fox $10m in actual damages and $62m punitive damages.
Johnson & Johnson faces claims that, in an effort to boost sales, it failed for decades to warn consumers its talc-based products could cause cancer. About 1,000 cases have been filed in Missouri state court, and another 200 in New Jersey.
Fox, who lived in Birmingham, Alabama, claimed she used Baby Powder and Shower to Shower for more than 35 years before being diagnosed three years ago with ovarian cancer. She died in October at age 62.
Jurors found Johnson & Johnson liable for fraud, negligence, and conspiracy, the family’s lawyers said. Deliberations lasted four hours, following a three-week trial.
Jere Beasley, a lawyer for Fox’s family, said Johnson & Johnson “knew as far back as the 1980s of the risk”, and yet resorted to “lying to the public, lying to the regulatory agencies”. He spoke on a conference call with journalists.
Carol Goodrich, a Johnson & Johnson spokeswoman, said: “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.”
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