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Jury unsympathetic to Johnson & Johnson in product liability case

If the proverbial writing is on the wall for consumer product giant Johnson & Johnson, it doesn't paint a very rosy picture.

In fact, it sketches a dismal portrayal for the company going forward, at least in terms of the role it plays as defendant in many thousands of product liability lawsuits filed by women across the country with cancer.

What those women are alleging, in at least 4,500 claims, is a material link between ingredients found in J&J's best-selling baby powders/talcs and ovarian cancer.

At the heart of litigation is the claim that, notwithstanding a known nexus between the products and the claimed harms, Johnson & Johnson executives purposefully chose to remain silent regarding the risks, for decades.

And that is unconscionable, say attorneys for the women, given the especially virulent nature of ovarian cancer. That form of cancer reportedly results in one of every five cancer-related deaths for American women.

As unenviable as J&J's ethical position might be, the financial challenges rising from the flood of lawsuits are flat-out stark.

Notably, and in just a single case that concluded last week, one jury handed down a verdict for the plaintiff in a civil matter that awarded her a stunning $417-million money judgment against J&J. More than 80% of the judgment was pegged to punitive damages, which the jury assessed pursuant to its view that the company knew of a product/cancer link and failed to address it through a warning label.

J&J executives are undoubtedly unnerved by that result, given the thousands of yet undecided cases it faces.

We will timely track material results that surface in those matters for our readers across Connecticut and elsewhere.

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