Johnson & Johnson takes a $4.8M hit in talc case, but once again pledges to appeal

Johnson & Johnson has suffered its second talc verdict so far in June. (Pixabay)

Make it two losses in recent weeks for Johnson & Johnson and its defense of talc products—though this time around, the damages came in far from the nine-digit mark.

After a $325 million verdict in New York in late May, a jury in California on Wednesday ordered the drugmaker to pay $4.8 million to a woman who said her routine use of talc powder caused her to develop mesothelioma, Bloomberg reports.  

Patricia Schmitz said her regular use of J&J’s Baby Powder and Colgate’s Cashmere Bouquet triggered her mesothelioma, a cancer linked to asbestos exposure. After testimony, jurors ordered each company to pay $4.8 million. The jury didn't issue any punitive damages.  

J&J representative Kim Montagnino said the company will appeal “because Johnson’s Baby Powder does not contain asbestos or cause cancer, as supported by decades of independent clinical evidence.” 

“There were serious procedural and evidentiary errors in the proceeding that required us to move for mistrial on multiple occasions and we believe provide strong grounds for appeal,” she added. 

The loss comes on the heels of a far costlier verdict in New York. In that case, plaintiff Donna Olson and her attorneys secured $300 million in punitive damages, $20 million for Olson’s past and future pain, plus $5 million to her husband for loss of consortium. J&J said it’ll appeal.

J&J faces about 14,200 cases alleging harm from talc, according to a recent securities filing.  

So far in the litigation, jurors in numerous states have ordered the company to hand over billions of dollars in a series of verdicts. The biggest came last summer when a St. Louis jury levied damages of $4.69 billion after a trial that combined the claims of 22 women. As in other cases, J&J said there were procedural errors and that it would appeal.  

In fact, of every verdict against the company to make it through appeals, each has been overturned, Montagnino said earlier this month. And the company has won other cases along the way, she said. It’s prevailed after trials in five cases in recent months.