On May 31, a New York jury hit consumer products giant Johnson & Johnson with an order to pay $300 million in punitive damages to a woman who developed asbestos-related cancer after using the company’s talc products, including its iconic baby powder.
The punitive damage award follows an earlier decision by the same jury to award plaintiff Donna Olson, 66, and her husband $25 million in compensatory damages, bringing the total award in the case to $325 million. Olson’s lawsuit alleged that J&J’s baby powder and other talc-based products were contaminated by asbestos and that the company knew for decades its talc source was compromised but did nothing about it.
Olson developed mesothelioma, a very aggressive form of cancer whose primary cause is asbestos exposure.
During the trial, Johnson & Johnson argued that is talcum powder did not contain any asbestos. The jury did not see it that way, however, finding instead that not only did J&J talc contain the cancer-causing substance but that the company knew about it and failed to warn consumers.
Johnson & Johnson has indicated strongly that it plans to appeal the punitive damage award and the jury verdict itself. “This trial suffered significant legal and evidentiary errors which Johnson & Johnson believes will warrant a reversal on appeal. Decades of tests by independent experts and academic institutions repeatedly confirm that Johnson’s Baby Powder does not contain asbestos or cause cancer,” the company said in a statement to the media.
Thousands of Similar Lawsuits
J&J’s talc products are the subject of more than 13,000 lawsuits pending around the country. The suits allege that J&J baby powder contains asbestos and causes mesothelioma, ovarian cancer, and other serious illnesses.
- A few of the cases have reached verdicts, and the results have been mixed:
- In New Jersey in 2018, a jury awarded the plaintiff $117 million.
- In California in 2018, a jury awarded the plaintiff $29.5 million
Just a week prior to the Olson verdict, a South Carolina jury sided with J&J, finding that its talc did not contain asbestos.
Do You Have Mesothelioma?
The Dallas law firm of Ted B. Lyon & Associates is one of Texas’ premier law firms handling asbestos and mesothelioma litigation. If you believe your cancer was caused by asbestos exposure, we may be able to help you pursue compensation. You are welcome to contact us anytime to discuss your situation.