State Court Jury Verdict Climbs to $325 Million in Talc-Cancer Trial

In edition 275 of BC Disease News (here), we reported that Johnson & Johnson had been ordered to pay $25 million in compensatory damages to the 10th claimant to successfully argue at trial that a history of prolonged talcum powder application was the cause of their cancer, due to the presence of trace levels of asbestos.[i]

66-year-old, Donna Olson, filed her claim in 2017, after having been diagnosed with terminal pleural mesothelioma in 2016. As part of her treatment, she underwent extrapleural pneumonectomy to remove her diseased lung.[ii]

In his wife’s absence, Mr. Olson testified at the state court that the claimant would ‘always’ apply J&J’s products in a post-showering ‘ritual’:

‘... she would pour it on her hand, apply it to her chest and pour it on her hand and do her underarms’.[iii]

We previously informed our readers that the New York Supreme Court (Manhattan) jury was scheduled to return to court, last week, to assess the appropriate level of punitive damages for putting ‘corporate profits and reputation over the health and safety of consumers’.

Last Friday, the jury handed up a $300 million verdict, comprising $200 million against J&J and $100 million against J&J Consumer Inc. As such, the total damages award in favour of the claimant now stands at $325 million (£250 million).[iv]

In an email statement, J&J spokeswoman, Kimberly Montagnino, acknowledged that the Baby Powder and Shower to Shower manufacturer had ‘suffered significant legal and evidentiary errors which ... will warrant a reversal on appeal ... Of all the verdicts against Johnson & Johnson that have been through the appellate process, every one has been overturned’.[v]

Graph: J&J Share Price (1 Year)

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(Source: Hargreaves Lansdown)

 

[i] Olson v. Brenntag, No. 190328/2017, New York Supreme Court (Manhattan).

[ii] Tim Povtak, ‘Johnson & Johnson Hit with $325M Verdict in Mesothelioma Case’ (3 June 2019 Asbestos.com) <https://www.asbestos.com/news/2019/06/03/johnson-johnson-asbestos-talc-verdict/> accessed 4 June 2019.

[iii] Ariel Zilber, ‘Woman who 'got terminal cancer from daily use of "asbestos-laden" Johnson & Johnson baby powder' is awarded $325million by a jury’ (2 June 2019 The Daily Mail) <https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7095553/Woman-got-cancer-daily-use-Johnson-Johnson-baby-powder-awarded-325million-jury.html> accessed 4 June 2019.    

[iv] Max Mitchell, ‘Manhattan Jury Adds $300M in Punitive Damages to Verdict in Lawsuit Linking Talc Products to Mesothelioma’ (31 May 2019 New York Law Journal) <https://www.law.com/newyorklawjournal/2019/05/31/manhattan-jury-adds-300-million-to-talc-verdict/?slreturn=20190504101401> accessed 4 June 2019.

[v] Jef Feeley and Margaret Cronin Fisk, ‘J&J Told to Pay $300 Million More by Talc-Cancer Jury’ (31 May 2019 Bloomberg) <https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-05-31/j-j-told-to-pay-300-million-more-by-jury-in-talc-cancer-suit> accessed 4 June 2019.