Recently, a New York State jury awarded a woman $325 million in damages, finding Johnson & Johnson’s talc-containing products were contaminated with asbestos and contributed to her mesothelioma. The verdict is one of the highest talc verdicts in the country to date, totaling $25 million in compensatory damages and $300 million in punitive damages.
The verdict comes more than two years after the commencement of litigation against Johnson & Johnson talc products. The New York case involved 66-year-old Donna Olson and her husband. It was alleged that Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products contained asbestos and that Mrs. Olson’s consistent use of these products consequently caused her mesothelioma, which is a rare, fatal form of cancer. Mesothelioma is directly linked to asbestos exposure. Mrs. Olson testified that she used Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder beginning at the age of 8 until 1984, frequently creating a “cloud” when she would apply the products as part of her daily routine.
A highly publicized and widely disseminated Reuters article released in December 2018 revealed the presence of asbestos in talc, which has been used in Johnson & Johnson products for decades. The article also exposed Johnson & Johnson’s knowledge of the contaminant in their products.
Currently, Johnson & Johnson is facing more than 14,000 lawsuits that allege its talcum powder products caused mesothelioma and ovarian cancer. However, Johnson & Johnson continues to deny that its products contain asbestos and maintains they are safe for public use and consumption. The New York verdict marks the 10th favorable verdict for talc Plaintiffs in the two years since the litigation has commenced.
Asbestos is a mineral that is mined from the earth, just as talc, and the two are naturally found near each other. Talc can become easily contaminated with asbestos during the mining process. Asbestos was used for a variety of consumer and industrial products. Unfortunately, the United States does not have a total, current ban on asbestos.
The Olsons are represented by Jerome Block of Levy Konigsberg LLP and Christian Hartley, Suzanne Ratcliffe and Margaret Samadi of Maune Raichle Hartley French & Mudd LLC. The case is Donna A. Olson et al. v. Brenntag North America Inc. et al., (case number 190328/2017) in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of New York.
Beasley Allen is proud to represent clients diagnosed with mesothelioma and asbestos-related diseases. For more information about this case, or asbestos litigation in general, contact Beasley Allen lead mesothelioma attorney Sharon Zinns.
This story appears in the July issue of The Jere Beasley Report. For more like it, or to subscribe, visit the Report online.