St. Louis, Missouri
Returning a record setting and historic verdict, a St. Louis jury has ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay 22 plaintiffs with ovarian cancer a total of $4.69 billion dollars. The jury found the plaintiffs’ cancers were directly caused or contributed to be caused by talc products containing asbestos. The verdict followed a six-week jury trial in the 22nd Judicial Circuit of the State of Missouri with the Hon. Rex M. Burlison presiding. The verdict was the culmination of three and a half years of litigation centered on the safety of J&J talc products.
The $4.69 billion dollar verdict is the largest known verdict ever returned in both St. Louis as well as the entire State of Missouri. Additionally, the verdict is the first in the United States to prove that Johnson & Johnson’s talc products contain asbestos that causes ovarian cancer. Eric Holland of St. Louis’ Holland Law Firm congratulated the plaintiffs in the courtroom following the verdict and vowed to keep fighting for them through the appeals process: “We will never stop fighting for you. J&J has known about asbestos in talc for decades and now it’s time to get this dangerous product off the market. The jury’s message to J&J and the world was clear: stop selling talc with asbestos.”
The multi-billion-dollar verdict shattered previous records and includes over $4 billion for punitive damages, which are permitted by law to punish and deter a company that a jury finds acted with conscious disregard for the safety of others. Holland pointed out that all of the company witnesses continued to deny the presence of asbestos in talc products despite what he called “overwhelming evidence” that J&J not only knew but that steps were taken to actively conceal the presence of asbestos. The trial included numerous examples of J&J attempting to influence scientific literature, pressure regulators, and conceal or destroy evidence, according to Holland.
Throughout the trial, plaintiffs’ counsel Mark Lanier of Lanier Law Firm in Houston referred to J&J’s efforts to say there is no asbestos in talc as “the name game”, pointing out the company’s changing definitions for asbestos that allowed it to keep selling talc products despite repeated acknowledgement in internal documents that J&J talc contained several kinds of asbestos including tremolite, a type of asbestos found through testing in talc mines, ore, and products. Lanier also chided the corporate representative for destroying test grids and for missing test results that spanned decades, which the J&J witness admitted had occurred.
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Holland Law Firm