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Johnson & Johnson Hit With Additional $750 Million Punitive Verdict in Talcum Powder Asbestos Cancer Lawsuit

Posted by Michael Throneberry | Mar 30, 2020

A New Jersey state jury recently handed down a substantial $750 million verdict to plaintiffs during the punitive damages phase of the trial after already handing down a multimillion dollar verdict on the victim's behalf during the main phase of the trial last year. The four victorious plaintiffs brought their talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuit against New Jersey-based pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson, claiming the company knowingly sold cosmetics products containing deadly carcinogens.

In September 2109, a Middlesex County jury handed down a $37.3 million verdict on behalf of the plaintiffs after a nearly two-month trial, during which time they were presented with compelling testimony detailing Johnson & Johnson's decades long knowledge about the possibility of asbestos contamination in its iconic Baby Powder. The cosmetic product is made from talc, one of the softest known minerals, and used in a variety of other products including Johnson & Johnson's Shower to Shower.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs told jurors how the plaintiffs developed various forms of cancer, including mesothelioma, from years of using Johnson & Johnson's Baby Powder. Jurors were presented with internal Johnson & Johnson documents which showed executives knew as far back as the 1970s that its talc-based products were testing positive for deadly asbestos fibers.

The jury which awarded the $750 million in punitive damages is different from the one which previously found in favor of the plaintiffs and awarded the $37.3 million in compensatory damages in September 2019. Punitive damages are a special type of award that juries in some cases may hand down for especially egregious instances of negligence on behalf of defendants. While the $750 million in punitives is substantial, New Jersey state law will reduce that amount to a maximum of five times the original number for compensatory damages, roughly $185 million in this case.

While talc does not contain asbestos itself, the two are both naturally occurring minerals which can often be found side by side one another. Because of this phenomenon, talc-sourcing companies and those processing the mineral must take precautions to ensure cross-contamination does not take place and put innocent consumers at unknowing risk for developing serious health conditions.

Some of the plaintiffs in this case alleged they developed mesothelioma as a result of using Johnson & Johnson's talcum powder products. Mesothelioma is directly linked to asbestos exposure and the disease commonly affects thin linings of tissue surrounding vital organs such as the lungs, abdomen, and heart. Johnson & Johnson is facing an estimated 17,000 other talcum powder cancer lawsuits in state and federal courts across the country, with many alleging that the plaintiffs developed mesothelioma from asbestos exposure in contaminated talc.

Arizona Mesothelioma Lawyer

If you or a loved one were diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact our office to speak to one of our experienced Arizona mesothelioma attorneys about your situation. Our office can help investigate your case and determine if compensation can be sought from negligent parties to help pay for your medical treatment to help you and your family live a more comfortable life.

About the Author

Michael Throneberry

Attorney Michael Throneberry graduated from Purdue University with a Civil Engineering degree. He then served with the United States Army...

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