Products Liability Law Daily J&J ordered to pay woman stricken with mesothelioma $325M
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Monday, June 3, 2019

J&J ordered to pay woman stricken with mesothelioma $325M

By Kathleen Bianco, J.D.

Johnson & Johnson liable for woman’s talcum powder-related mesothelioma.

A New York City jury awarded $325 million to a woman who was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a rare cancer, after exposure to asbestos in cosmetic talc commonly used in baby powder. The jury also awarded damages to her husband for loss of consortium. The verdict includes $20 million to the woman for past and future pain and suffering, $5 million for loss of consortium, and $300 million in punitive damages, according to a news release issued by the law firm representing the plaintiffs (Olson v. Johnson & Johnson, May 30, 2019).

Complaint. According to the lawsuit, the injured woman was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a type of cancer primarily caused by asbestos exposure, as a result of her long-term use of Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder. The suit alleged that the baby powder products manufactured by Johnson & Johnson contained asbestos and asserted that the manufacturer had been aware of this contamination for many years and failed to warn consumers.

Jury findings.The jury found in favor of the couple, awarding compensatory damages along with damages for the husband’s loss of consortium. Following a four-month trial, the jury concluded, based on numerous internal documents, that Johnson & Johnson knew of the asbestos in its products as early as the 1970s. The jury further determined that instead of warning users or changing their ingredients, the manufacturer adopted testing methods that were not capable of detecting the asbestos and then used the flawed tests to assert that its products did not contain asbestos. Because of this willful and wanton behavior, the jury found the imposition of punitive damages to be warranted, according to the plaintiffs’ attorneys.

Damages. The verdict awarded $20 million to the woman for her past and future pain and suffering, $5 million to her husband for his loss of consortium, and $300 million in punitive damages.

Attorneys: Jerome Block (Levy Konigsberg LLP) and Christian Hartley (Maune Raichle Hartley French & Mudd, LLC) for Donna and Robert Olson.

Companies: Johnson & Johnson

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