J&J Must Pay $260 Million In Latest Talc Trial, Oregon Jury Says

J&J 260million oregon jury

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) must pay $260 million to an Oregon woman who developed mesothelioma, a deadly cancer linked to asbestos exposure, after inhaling the company’s talc powder, a jury ruled on Monday.

The verdict from the 4th Judicial District Circuit Court in Portland comes as Johnson & Johnson continues to pursue a proposed $6.48 billion settlement to resolve most talc-related lawsuits against it through a prepackaged bankruptcy. The jury awarded $60 million in compensatory damages and $200 million in punitive damages to the plaintiff and her husband.

Erik Haas, Johnson & Johnson’s worldwide vice president of litigation, stated that the verdict “is irreconcilable with the decades of independent scientific evaluations confirming talc is safe, does not contain asbestos, and does not cause cancer.” He expressed confidence that the company would appeal and get the verdict reversed.

The plaintiff, Kyung Lee, received her mesothelioma diagnosis last year at age 48. She claimed she inhaled asbestos-tainted talc for over 30 years, starting when her mother used it on her as a baby and later when she used it herself as a deodorant.

J&J adamant

Johnson & Johnson asserts that its talc products do not contain asbestos and do not cause cancer, citing decades of scientific studies to support their safety. During the trial, a lawyer for the company argued that Lee’s illness likely resulted from exposure to asbestos at a factory near where she grew up.

Johnson & Johnson faces lawsuits from more than 61,000 plaintiffs over talc, with the vast majority filed by women with ovarian cancer and a smaller number involving mesothelioma cases. The company has settled most of the mesothelioma cases.

To secure approval for a bankruptcy settlement that would end the litigation and prevent future cases, Johnson & Johnson needs the support of 75% of the remaining plaintiffs. Courts have rejected two previous efforts by the company to resolve the talc cases in bankruptcy. Johnson & Johnson believes that support from plaintiffs will allow the latest attempt to succeed.

A group of plaintiffs opposing the deal filed a class action lawsuit on May 22 to stop it, calling it a “fraudulent” abuse of the bankruptcy system.

Trials in the talc cases have yielded mixed results. Major plaintiff wins include a $2.1 billion judgment in 2021 awarded to 22 women with ovarian cancer. In April, Johnson & Johnson won an ovarian cancer case but faced a $45 million verdict in a mesothelioma case.