Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky must testify to jurors in a New Jersey state court considering punitive damages in a case brought by four people who claim the company’s talcum powder products were contaminated with asbestos and caused them to develop mesothelioma. In September, a separate jury ordered the consumer health care giant to pay the plaintiffs $37.3 million in compensatory damages.
Gorskey’s attorneys had tried to convince Superior Court Judge Ana C. Viscomi to dismiss the plaintiffs’ subpoena for him to testify but she refused, finding that his statements indicated he has personal knowledge that would prove beneficial when jurors evaluate whether the company acted maliciously and disregarded plaintiffs’ rights in relation to the issue. One such example includes comments Gorksy made during a December 2018 interview on CNBC’s “Mad Money,” in which he denied that J&J talcum powder contained asbestos.
“The court does not view this as ending with the time period of use by the plaintiffs, but rather at issue in a punitive damages phase is whether the conduct is ongoing,” Judge Viscomi said.
The case in question involves plaintiffs Will Ronning, D’Angela McNeill-George, Douglas Barden and David Ethridge, who claim exposure to asbestos in Johnson’s Baby Powder caused them to develop mesothelioma, a rare and deadly form of cancer linked to asbestos exposure. Ronning died shortly after the trial to determine compensatory damages.
Gorsky has been quick to publicly defend J&J’s products against claims that its talc is contaminated with cancer-causing asbestos, even as Food and Drug Administration (FDA) testing revealed trace amounts of asbestos in its iconic Jonson’s Baby Powder. Last month, Grosky refused to testify under oath at a U.S. congressional hearing to address the FDA’s findings.
Beasley Allen has been privileged to represent thousands of people who developed ovarian cancer and mesothelioma after using Johnson & Johnson talcum powder. For more information about mesothelioma litigation, contact Sharon Zinns in the firm’s Atlanta office.