Johnson & Johnson ordered to pay $4.69 billion damages in talc cancer case

Plaintiff Gail Ingham, foreground, of O'Fallon, Missouri., stands outside the civil courthouse with attorneys Lee Cirsch, from left, Eric Holland and Mark Lanier following a verdict against health care giant Johnson & Johnson on July 12, 2018, in St. Louis. (Christian Gooden/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP)
Updated 13 July 2018
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Johnson & Johnson ordered to pay $4.69 billion damages in talc cancer case

  • A jury composed of six men and six women in St. Louis, Missouri, ruled in favor of the women after a six-week trial and eight hours of deliberation.
  • “For over 40 years, Johnson & Johnson has covered up the evidence of asbestos in their products,” the victims’ lawyer, Mark Lanier, said in a statement.

WASHINGTON: US pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson was Thursday ordered to pay out $4.69 billion in damages in a lawsuit representing 22 women and their families who alleged a talc sold by the company contained asbestos and caused them to suffer cancer.
It is the latest twist in a matter that has seen several thousand lawsuits filed against J&J.
According to the victims’ lawyer, Mark Lanier, a jury composed of six men and six women in St. Louis, Missouri, ruled in favor of the women after a six-week trial and eight hours of deliberation. The damages include $550 million in compensation and over $4.1 billion in punitive damages.
The plaintiffs said using the talc for personal hygiene had caused ovarian cancer.
“For over 40 years, Johnson & Johnson has covered up the evidence of asbestos in their products,” Lanier said in a statement.
“We hope this verdict will get the attention of the J&J board and that it will lead them to better inform the medical community and the public about the connection between asbestos, talc, and ovarian cancer,” he said, calling for talc to be pulled from the market.
J&J said it was “deeply disappointed in the verdict.”
In a statement, it described the trial as “a fundamentally unfair process that allowed plaintiffs to present a group of 22 women, most of whom had no connection to Missouri, in a single case all alleging that they developed ovarian cancer.”
“The result of the verdict, which awarded the exact same amounts to all plaintiffs irrespective of their individual facts, and differences in applicable law, reflects that the evidence in the case was simply overwhelmed by the prejudice of this type of proceeding.”
The company said its talc does not contain asbestos or cause ovarian cancer, and vowed it would “pursue all available appellate remedies.”
Several similar trials have already taken place, with a Los Angeles appeals court last October dismissing a $417 million verdict against J&J, saying the complainant’s arguments were insufficient and vague.


India’s Modi stares at biggest election loss since coming to power

Updated 11 December 2018
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India’s Modi stares at biggest election loss since coming to power

  • Analysts say a big loss for Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party would signify rural dismay and help unite the opposition
  • Poll analysts cautioned that with the counting in preliminary stages, it was still too early to predict the outcome of state races involving millions of voters

NEW DELHI: India’s ruling party could lose power in three key states, four TV networks said on Tuesday, citing votecount leads, potentially handing Prime Minister Narendra Modi his biggest defeat since he took office in 2014, and months ahead of a general election.
The main opposition Congress party could form governments in the central states of Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, and in the western state of Rajasthan, all big heartland states that powered Modi to a landslide win in the 2014 general election.
Analysts say a big loss for Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party would signify rural dismay and help unite the opposition, despite his high personal popularity in the face of criticism that he did not deliver on promises of jobs for young people and better conditions for farmers.
“We’ve all voted for Congress this time and our candidate is winning here,” said Bishnu Prasad Jalodia, a wheat grower in Madhya Pradesh, where it appears as if Congress might have to woo smaller parties to keep out Modi’s party.
“BJP ignored us farmers, they ignored those of us at the bottom of the pyramid.”
The elections are also a test for Rahul Gandhi, president of the left-of-center Congress, who is trying to forge a broad alliance with regional groups and face Modi with his most serious challenge yet, in the election that must be held by May.
In Rajasthan, the Congress was leading in 114 of the 199 seats contested, against 81 for the BJP, in the initial round of voting, India Today TV said.
In Chhattisgarh, the Congress was ahead in 59 of the 90 seats at stake, with the BJP at 24. In Madhya Pradesh, the most important of the five states that held assembly elections over the past few weeks, Congress was ahead, with 112 of 230 seats. The Hindu nationalist BJP was at 103, the network said.
Three other TV channels also said Congress was leading in the three states, with regional parties leading in two smaller states that also voted, Telangana in the south and Mizoram in the northeast.
Poll analysts cautioned that with the counting in preliminary stages, it was still too early to predict the outcome of state races involving millions of voters.
Local issues usually dominate state polls, but politicians are seeing the elections as a pointer to the national vote just months away.
Indian markets recovered some ground after an early fall as the central bank governor’s unexpected resignation the previous day shocked investors.
The rupee currency dropped as much as 1.5 percent to 72.465 per dollar, while bond yields rose 12 basis points to 7.71 percent after the resignation of Reserve Bank of India Governor Urjit Patel.
The broader NSE share index was down 1.3 percent, with investors cautious ahead of the election results.
“As the three erstwhile BJP states have a large agrarian population, the BJP’s drubbing could be interpreted to mean that farm unrest is real,” Nomura said in a research note before the results.
“A rout of the BJP on its homeground states should encourage cohesion among the opposition parties to strengthen the non-BJP coalition for the general elections.”
Gandhi, the fourth generation scion of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, has sought to build a coalition of regional groups, some headed by experienced firebrand, ambitious politicians.
Congress has already said it would not name Gandhi, who is seen as lacking experience, as a prime ministerial candidate.
“When one and one become eleven, even the mighty can be dethroned,” opposition leader Akhilesh Yadav said of the prospect of growing opposition unity.