Two new rulings follow trend of reversing large jury-awarded damages as firm works through thousands of cases

Two US court verdicts that would have cost Johnson & Johnson (J&J) about $500 million (£380 million) in damages, related to illnesses claimed to have been caused by the company’s talcum powder, have been overturned. J&J is facing around 5000 similar suits. In most of those resolved so far, juries have ruled against the company, only for judges to later dismiss or overturn the decisions.

On 20 October, a judge in Los Angeles reversed a $417 million award to a woman who claimed that regular talc use caused her ovarian cancer. The judge concluded that there was ‘insufficient’ evidence to justify the large punitive damages awarded, and granted the company a new trial. A few days earlier, an appeals court in St. Louis overturned a separate $72 million verdict.

J&J said it is pleased with the developments. ‘Ovarian cancer is a devastating disease – but it is not caused by the cosmetic-grade talc we have used for decades,’ the company stated. ‘The science is clear and we will continue to defend the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder as we prepare for additional trials.’