St. Louis, Missouri Judge Rex Burlison of the 22nd Circuit Court ruled to uphold the $4.7 billion verdict against talc product manufacturer Johnson & Johnson in Ingham, et al. v. Johnson & Johnson, et al.
The verdict, which consisted of $4.14 billion in punitive damages and $550 million in compensatory damages is the sixth-largest verdict in a product liability lawsuit in U.S. history – it is the largest verdict against J&J.
Judge Burlison refused to grant J&J’s motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, new trial, and new trials on damages, on a basis of what Burlison concluded was “substantial evidence” to support the $4.7 billion award.
“First, substantial evidence was adduced at trial of particularly reprehensible conduct on the part of defendants, including that defendants knew of the presence of asbestos in products that they knowingly targeted for sale to mothers and babies, knew of the damage their products caused, and misrepresented the safety of these products for decades,” Burlison wrote. “Second, defendants’ actions caused significant physical harm and potential physical harm, including causing ovarian cancer in plaintiffs or plaintiffs’ decedents.”
Representatives for the defendant argued that the Missouri court lacked jurisdiction over the company, which is based in New Jersey. The defense went on to argue that the plaintiffs had failed to prove their claims in court.
A spokesperson for J&J said that the company plans to file an appeal within the coming weeks.