A Missouri Court of Appeals affirmed a jury verdict June 23 finding that Johnson & Johnson had actual knowledge of asbestos contained in its popular talcum-based baby powder, cutting in half the $4.69 billion damages award originally directed by the jury to $2.1 billion.
“A reasonable inference from all this evidence is that, motivated by profits, defendants disregarded the safety of consumers despite their knowledge the talc in their products caused ovarian cancer,” the ruling said, according to the New York Times.
The court ordered Johnson &Johnson to pay plaintiffs $500 million in actual damages and $1.62 in punitive damages to plaintiffs.
A spokeswoman for Johnson &Johnson, Kim Montagnino, maintained that Johnson & Johnson will seek review of the decision by the Supreme Court of Missouri and defend its talcum products as being safe, as reported by the New York Times.
“We continue to believe this was a fundamentally flawed trial, grounded in a faulty presentation of the facts,” she said. “We remain confident that our talc is safe, asbestos free and does not cause cancer."
Asbestos was first linked to ovarian cancer in 1958 and has since been confirmed by the Food and Drug Administration as a highly dangerous carcinogen, even in trace amounts.
Since 2014, Johnson & Johnson has faced nearly 20,000 lawsuits claiming that asbestos-contaminated talc in its baby powder was directly related to causing ovarian cancer or mesothelioma in women, MedTruth reported in May.
Johnson & Johnson recalled 33,000 bottles of its talc-based baby powder in October 2019 and, as of May, has since removed its baby powder from North American shelves. However, the company announced that it will continue to market the product as safe in other countries outside of the U.S.