A New York state judge recently ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $120 million in damages to a Brooklyn woman suffering from cancer after asbestos exposure from the decades-long use of baby powder (Johnson & Johnson ordered to pay $120 million damages in New York baby powder case). The amount was reduced by New York Supreme Court Justice Gerald Lebovits of Manhattan from the original $325 million awarded by a jury after a 14-week trial.
Although the judge upheld the jury’s finding of liability, he ruled that the damages were excessive and the plaintiff could either accept the lowered figure or undergo a new damages trial. The new damages amount consists of compensatory damages of $15 million and punitive damages of $105 million.
Johnson & Johnson plans to appeal the verdict because of “significant legal and evidentiary errors” during the trial. “We deeply sympathize with anyone suffering from cancer, which is why the facts are so important,” the company said in a statement. “We remain confident that our talc is safe, asbestos free, and does not cause cancer.”
Jerome Block, an attorney for the plaintiff, indicated satisfaction with the judge’s ruling and expressed confidence it would remain in place. Block stated that the plaintiff’s mesothelioma “is at an advanced stage, and we are hoping for the best.”
The plaintiff had testified at trial to daily use of Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower for over 50 years. Judge Lebovits wrote in his ruling that the jury could find that Johnson & Johnson, over a period of decades, was “knowingly deceitful about” or “willfully blind to” the potential danger to users of its talc products, as part of its desire to maximize profits and market share.
Johnson & Johnson has been subject to increased scrutiny regarding the safety of its talc-based products in part because of a 2018 investigative report by Reuters that determined that the company has known about the existence of asbestos in its talc for many years. Evidence including internal company records and testimony from various trials shows that Johnson & Johnson’s raw talc and manufactured powders have tested positive for asbestos since at least 1971.
If you have mesothelioma, ovarian cancer, or another form of cancer and have been exposed to products containing talc, please call Davis, Bethune & Jones at 1-800-875-5972 for a free consultation. Our experienced personal injury attorneys will ensure that your rights are protected and you receive the compensation you deserve.