In 2018, at least one jury found for the plaintiffs in a multi-billion dollar lawsuit claiming that Johnson & Johnson’s iconic Baby Powder caused ovarian cancer in more than 20 women. While the company is planning on appealing the verdict, the numerous lawsuits have already led to a partner company, who mines the talc for the product, Imersys, to declare bankruptcy in the United States. Talc is mined near asbestos and claims that Johnson & Johnson’s talc powder contain the cancer-causing material have led to hundreds of lawsuits being filed. According to Bloomberg, 2019 may be even worse for the company.
Last July, a jury ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $4.69 billion to 22 women who said that the talc product caused them to develop ovarian cancer. The likelihood of similar judgments helped drop the company’s market value $45 million, with their shares headed for their single biggest yearly loss in a decade.
In 2019, the health-care product giant is scheduled to face more than three times as many baby powder trials. Four of those trials will take place in St. Louis, the same place where the company lost the $4.69 billion-dollar lawsuit. One of those trials is on behalf of 38 women.
Since the lawsuits began going to trial in 2016, juries have cost the company more than $5 billion. Some of those verdicts have been tossed out on appeals.
To resolve the near 12,000 talc cases, Johnson & Johnson may have to pay out an estimated $20 billion in settlements. On a per case basis, this would result in a $1.67 million payout to each plaintiff.