J&J ordered to pay $37.3M to 4 mesothelioma plaintiffs in New Jersey

Johnson & Johnson is defending itself on multiple legal fronts, and Wednesday the drug giant took another loss in its talc powder litigation. 

A jury in New Jersey ordered the drugmaker to pay $37.3 million to four plaintiffs who argued the company’s baby powder contained asbestos and caused them to develop mesothelioma, the New Jersey Law Journal reports. In a unique twist in the case, the judge struck J&J’s entire closing argument after the company's lawyer called the plaintiffs' attorneys “sinister,” according to the Courtroom View Network. 

A J&J spokeswoman said the trial "suffered egregious legal and evidentiary errors, including the inability to present key information to the jury and the striking of our entire closing argument, that required us to move for mistrial on nearly a dozen separate occasions." The company plans to appeal.

"Johnson’s Baby Powder does not contain asbestos nor does it cause cancer, as multiple juries have found in recent months, and as confirmed by more than 40 years of independent scientific evaluations," she added.

The loss is the latest in a string of verdicts J&J’s been ordered to pay during years of talc litigation. In each case, the company has pledged to appeal, and every verdict that's been through the appeals process has been overturned. J&J faces about 15,500 talc lawsuits, according to a recent quarterly filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

RELATED: Weeks after California loss, J&J scores talc victory close to home 

Aside from its talc cases, J&J is also a defendant in national opioid litigation. J&J’s talc verdict comes on the heels of a $572 million opioid judgment in Oklahoma. Oklahoma sued J&J, Purdue Pharma and Teva for creating a “public nuisance” with their opioid marketing, and the latter two companies settled before trial. J&J chose to fight it out and lost after the trial, but the company said it’ll appeal.