In the second trial loss for Johnson & Johnson's talc products in as many months, a jury in Los Angeles ordered the company and other defendants to pay $25.75 million in damages to plaintiff Joanne Anderson.
Anderson sued J&J and its co-defendants alleging the company's Baby Powder contains asbestos and caused her mesothelioma, a type of lung cancer linked with the substance. The jury originally handed down compensatory damages of $21.75 million after trial, and followed that up on Thursday with an award of $4 million in punitive damages, according to Androvett Legal Media. J&J is liable for two-thirds of the verdict amount.
A J&J spokesperson said the company is "disappointed with the verdict and we will begin the appeals process." The company will "continue to defend the safety of our product because it does not contain asbestos or cause mesothelioma," she added.
For years, Johnson & Johnson has been defending against claims its storied talcum powder—not all that important of a product revenue-wise but one that's a pillar of the company's brand image—can cause ovarian cancer. The drugmaker has denied a link to cancer and has had mixed results in court. More recently, mesothelioma and asbestos claims have started popping up.
Johnson & Johnson has denied its talc contains asbestos based on "multiple independent, non-litigation-driven scientific evaluations." But in various cases, plaintiffs' attorneys have presented old documents showing asbestos appeared in some tests and that J&J employees debated internally about the issue.
In a previous mesothelioma legal loss, J&J and its talc supplier Imerys were ordered to pay $117 million by a jury in New Jersey. The drugmaker won another mesothelioma case last year in Los Angeles.
Aside from mesothelioma litigation, J&J faces thousands of lawsuits claiming talcum powder causes ovarian cancer. It's won cases in New Jersey and St. Louis, and has managed to get verdicts of $417 million and $72 million thrown out on appeal. The company is in the process of appealing losses of $55 million, $70 million and $110 million.
J&J faces about 9,100 talc lawsuits as of its last quarterly filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The filing said said the talc case count "continues to increase," and that J&J "continues to receive information with respect to potential costs and the anticipated number of cases."
Editor's note: This story was updated to include information about punitive damages.