Johnson & Johnson has been hit with billions in talc verdicts, but it's had mixed success in appeals. With a new decision Wednesday, the company chalked up its latest appeals win.
A court in J&J's home state of New Jersey struck down a $117 million verdict against the drugmaker originally handed down there in 2018, Bloomberg reports. The court ruled that the trial judge shouldn’t have allowed certain expert testimony, so J&J and its talc partner Imerys—which has since declared bankruptcy—deserve another trial.
J&J's appeals win comes in the case of retired banker Stephen Lanzo, who argued that decades of talc use caused him to develop mesothelioma.
A J&J spokeswoman said the opinion marks a “rejection” of the plaintiffs’ courtroom strategy of using paid experts to “present junk science that purports to find asbestos where there is none."
Even considering the appeals win, J&J faces significant legal challenges ahead—both over its talc marketing and over its sales of opioid painkillers.
In a 2018 trial, a Missouri jury ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $4.69 billion after hearing the combined claims of 22 women who alleged the company’s talc powder caused their ovarian cancer. Last summer, the Missouri Court of Appeals for the Eastern District reduced the verdict to $2.1 billion.
J&J has appealed the verdict, but the Missouri Supreme Court refused to take up its case. J&J is now appealing at the U.S. Supreme Court, and several business groups backed the company’s petition in recent court filings.
It’s far from certain that the Supreme Court will take up the case, though. In last year’s financial results, the company recorded a nearly $4 billion litigation charge that it said was “primarily associated with talc related reserves and certain settlements.”
Meanwhile, on the opioid front, the company has set aside $5 billion as it works through potential settlements on thousands of cases from localities and states.
J&J is among a group of defendants facing an opioid trial in California. A talc trial is also ongoing in that state, Bloomberg reports.