Punitive Damages Added to Recent J&J Mesothelioma Verdict
After a Los Angeles court awarded $21.7 million in compensatory damages to a California woman who developed mesothelioma due to exposure to asbestos-tainted talc in Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder, they added an additional $4 million in punitive damages late last week.
That brings the total to nearly $25 million in this case, which is the second mesothelioma-related case lost by the consumer products company.
The case involved Joanne Anderson, age 68, who claims she used the famous baby powder for decades before she was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma, for which she is currently being treated. J&J has denied that their talcum-based products are or ever were contaminated with asbestos though testing shows that’s likely not true.
Plaintiff Anderson, and plaintiffs in other similar cases, maintain that talc and asbestos are easily intermingled during the mining process and claim that J&J did nothing to make sure there were no toxins in their products.
In addition to J&J, talc suppliers including Imerys SA, Cyprus Amax Minerals, a unit of Brenntag, Honeywell International and a few others were also named in the suit, though Johnson & Johnson is being held responsible for two-thirds of the amount awarded to Anderson.
It wasn’t clear whether the talc companies were also responsible for a portion of the punitive damages awarded last week.
This verdict followed an award of $117 million in a similar case tried in a New Jersey court in April. The plaintiff in that case made the same claim of long-term use of J&J Baby Powder followed by an eventual diagnosis of mesothelioma, which can often take decades to appear.
Conversely, the company was victorious in another mesothelioma lawsuit tried in California last year.
In a statement to the press, J&J said it was very disappointed with this most recent decision and would soon begin the appeals process.
“We will continue to defend the safety of our product because it does not contain asbestos or cause mesothelioma,” the company said.