J&J Fails To Overturn Baby Powder Verdict, Damages Cut To $2.12B

Johnson & Johnson’s (JNJ) bid to toss out a jury verdict in favor of women who blamed their ovarian cancer on its baby powder and other talc products, was rejected by a Missouri appeals court on Tuesday.

According to a Reuters report the Missouri Court of Appeals agreed to reduce J&J’s total damages payout to $2.12 billion from $4.69 billion for the 22 female plaintiffs.

The decision by the Missouri court comes after J&J on May 19 announced that it would cease selling its talc Johnson’s Baby Powder in the U.S. and Canada.

J&J faces more than 19,000 lawsuits claiming that its talc products caused cancer because of contamination from asbestos.

The company pledged to appeal Tuesday’s decision to the Missouri Supreme Court, the state’s highest court.

“This was a fundamentally flawed trial, grounded in a faulty presentation of the facts,” spokeswoman Kim Montagnino said. “We deeply sympathize with anyone suffering from cancer, which is why the facts are so important. We remain confident that our talc is safe, asbestos free, and does not cause cancer.”

The appeals court awarded $500 million in actual damages and $1.62 billion in punitive damages, reducing the original July 2018 verdict after dismissing claims by some of the plaintiffs.

It accused J&J for having published articles downplaying the safety hazards associated with talc, and said a jury could have reasonably found that its products caused the plaintiffs’ injuries.

“There was significant reprehensibility in defendants’ conduct,” it said.

J&J shares have been on a gaining path since plunging to a multi-year low in March and are now trading around their start of the year level. The stock was little changed at $143.58 as of early afternoon trading on Tuesday.

Overall the stock shows a cautiously optimistic Moderate Buy analyst consensus. That’s with a $163.42 average analyst price target indicating upside potential of 14%. (See JNJ stock analysis on TipRanks).

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