Business Essentials for Professionals


Johnson & Johnson To Pay $120M In Damages In New York Baby Powder Case

Johnson & Johnson To Pay $120M In Damages In New York Baby Powder Case
Damages of $120 million to a Brooklyn woman and her husband were ordered to be paid against Johnson & Johnson by a New York state judge. The woman had pinned the blame for her cancer on the exposure to asbestos from the use of Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder.
Previously, a jury had ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay Donna Olson, 67, and Robert Olson, 65, damages of $325 million in May of 2019 which was reduced by Justice Gerald Lebovits of the state supreme court in Manhattan.
The damages were too high and the Olsons had the option of either accepting the $120 million or opt to go for a new trial on damages, Lebovits wrote on November 11 while upholding the jury's liability finding.
According to court records, the lowered payout was approved by the judge on Wednesday. The damages include compensatory damages of $15 million and punitive damages of $105 million compared to the previous jury payout of $25 million and $300 million, respectively.
Citing "significant legal and evidentiary errors" at the trial, Johnson & Johnson said it will appeal the verdict.
"We deeply sympathize with anyone suffering from cancer, which is why the facts are so important," the company said. "We remain confident that our talc is safe, asbestos free, and does not cause cancer."
While expressing confidence that the ruling would stand, the Olsons welcomed the verdict, through their lawyer Jerome Block. Donna Olson's mesothelioma "is at an advanced stage, and we are hoping for the best," Block said.
Johnson's Baby Powder or Shower to Shower had been used by Donna Olson on a regular basis for more than 50 years, she had testified in court.
Jurors had agreed that Johnson & Johnson was for many years "knowingly deceitful about" or "willfully blind to" the possible health hazards to users of its talc products – partly to maintain its market share and profit, Lebovits wrote in the verdict.
A $2.12 billion damages awarded to women in Missouri who claimed that they had developed ovarian cancer because of asbestos that was present in Johnson’s baby powder and other talc products is being appealed by it in the US Supreme Court, said the New Brunswick, New Jersey-based company.
After an investigative report emerged in 2018 which found that Johnson & Johnson was aware of the presence of asbestos in its talc for decades, the company has faced intense scrutiny of its baby powder's safety.
The raw talc and finished powders of Johnson and Johnson sometimes tested positive for small amounts of asbestos of which the company was aware of from at least 1971 to the early 2000s, showed internal company records, trial testimony and other evidence.

Christopher J. Mitchell

Markets | Companies | M&A | Innovation | People | Management | Lifestyle | World | Misc