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J&J ordered to pay $300 million in punitive damages in talc baby powder case. Vows to appeal

Key Points
  • J&J was ordered Friday to pay $300 million in punitive damages to a woman who blamed her rare asbestos-related cancer on the company's talc-based products.
  • The consumer products company, which makes everything from Tylenol to Aveeno lotions, denies allegations that its talc causes cancer.
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Johnson & Johnson falls on $300 million punitive award in NY talc trial

Johnson & Johnson was ordered Friday to pay $300 million in punitive damages to a woman who blamed her rare asbestos-related cancer on the company's talc-based products, the company confirmed Friday.

Friday's decision brings the total award in the case to $325 million. The New York state jury earlier this month awarded $25 million to the woman, Donna Olson, 66, and her husband in compensatory damages. That same day jurors in a similar case in South Carolina cleared the company of liability.

"With this verdict, yet another jury has rejected J&J's misleading claims that its talc was free of asbestos," said Jerome Block, the lead trial attorney in the New York case. "The internal J&J documents that the jury saw, once more laid bare the shocking truth of decades of cover-up, deception and concealment by J&J of the asbestos found in talc baby powder."

J&J faces more than 13,000 talc-related lawsuits. The consumer products company, which makes everything from Tylenol to Aveeno lotions, denies allegations that its talc causes cancer. It said numerous studies and tests by regulators worldwide have shown that its talc is safe and asbestos-free.

"This trial suffered significant legal and evidentiary errors which Johnson & Johnson believes will warrant a reversal on appeal," J&J said in a statement to CNBC. "Decades of tests by independent experts and academic institutions repeatedly confirm that Johnson's Baby Powder does not contain asbestos or cause cancer."

"Of all the verdicts against Johnson & Johnson that have been through the appellate process, every one has been overturned," the company added.

J&J relaunched its iconic namesake baby product line last summer to reverse a decline in J&J's baby care unit. While trusted for decades, the 124-year-old brand had fallen out of touch with consumers, namely millennial moms, who opted instead for cleaner, natural products from trendy upstart brands.

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