A New York State judge has ordered pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson to pay $120 million in damages to a Brooklyn woman and her husband after she blamed her cancer on asbestos exposure from using the company’s talcum powder products. According to a Reuters news report, Judge Gerald Lebovits of the state supreme court in Manhattan reduced the payout from $325 million that a jury awarded the 67-year-old plaintiff in May 2019 following a 14-week trial.
Liability Finding Upheld
When the judge upheld the jury’s liability finding, he wrote that the damages were too high and that the plaintiffs, Donna and Robert Olson, could either accept $120 million or have a new trial on damages. The judge approved the lowered payout earlier this month, which includes $15 million in compensatory damages and $105 million in punitive damages – down from $25 million and $300 million respectively.
J&J has said it will appeal the judge’s decision citing “significant legal and evidentiary errors.” Donna Olson, whose mesothelioma is at an advanced stage, testified that she used Johnson’s Baby Powder daily for more than 50 years. Judge Lebovits wrote that jurors could find that J&J was for many years “knowingly deceitful” about or “willfully blind to” potential health risks its talc products presented, in part to maintain market share and profit. J&J is appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court a $2.2 billion damages award in Missouri to women who said they developed ovarian cancer after using the company’s talc products.
Talc and Cancer
Talc has long been the mainstay of powder and cosmetic products because the mineral keeps the skin dry. Talc mines can also yield asbestos, a mineral once used in products such as building insulation. Asbestos is also a known carcinogen and has been linked to cancers such as ovarian cancer and mesothelioma, a tumor of the tissue that lines the lungs, stomach, heart, and other organs. J&J has also been marketing its talcum powder products to women many of whom, like Olson, have been using for feminine hygiene for decades.
Our product defect law firm represents a number of people who have suffered the adverse health effects of talcum powder. We believe Johnson & Johnson sold these dangerous talcum powder products in spite of significant evidence that talc has been linked to cancer. We will not rest until our clients get justice and fair compensation for their significant losses.