A New York State judge has ordered Johnson & Johnson pay a mesothelioma victim $120 million in damages. The woman developed pleural mesothelioma after using Johnson & Johnson’s talc products for decades.
Johnson & Johnson appealed the award in November 2020. A judge maintained the company’s liability but lowered the award to $120 million. Johnson & Johnson alleges its products are and have always been safe.
Details of Compensation Awarded to Victim & Husband
Donna Olson and her husband won the case against Johnson & Johnson following a 14-week trial in 2019. That trial resulted in a judge ordering the company to pay the couple $325 million.
Johnson & Johnson appealed this initial verdict in the New York State Supreme Court. The presiding judge found the company was liable for Olson’s mesothelioma but lowered the award amount by $205 million.
According to the latest verdict, the Olsons will receive $15 million in compensatory damages and $105 million in punitive damages.
What Are Compensatory and Punitive Damages?
Compensatory Damages: Money awarded as a result of the negligence of another party.
Punitive Damages: Money awarded to the plaintiff to punish the defendant.
The combination of compensatory and punitive damages may help mesothelioma victims pay for treatment, compensate for wages lost as a result of their illness and compensate for pain and suffering.
How Johnson & Johnson’s Product Caused Cancer
Donna Olson used Johnson & Johnson talc products for more than 50 years. She applied the company’s Baby Powder or Shower to Shower products daily. She alleges this daily exposure to asbestos-contaminated talc products led to her mesothelioma diagnosis.
The Olsons filed the lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson in 2017.
Since filing, Donna Olson’s mesothelioma has progressed to advanced-stage pleural mesothelioma.
Dangers of Long-Term Asbestos Exposure
There is no safe level of asbestos exposure. However, long-term, daily exposure is especially dangerous, as was the case with Donna Olson. Decades of exposure to airborne asbestos fibers is often more likely to lead to asbestos-related diseases.
Inhalation or ingestion of asbestos-contaminated talcum powder may lead to:
Johnson & Johnson’s Legal Battles Over Its Talc Products
Donna Olson’s mesothelioma lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson isn’t the first cancer claim made against the company.
Johnson & Johnson has been named nearly 22,000 times in cases alleging its talcum powder products caused mesothelioma or ovarian cancer.
Claims against the company have grown over the course of years. Since the beginning of Johnson & Johnson’s legal battles over the asbestos-contaminated talc products, the company has ended sales in the United States.
In May 2020, the company announced it was ending sales of the talc-based baby powder in the U.S. While some in the mesothelioma community believe this decision to be an admission of guilt, Johnson & Johnson spokespeople have said this was a business decision based on lack of sales.
The company continues to defend the safety of its products. Its talc-based products are still sold elsewhere in the world.
Johnson & Johnson’s decision to stop selling talc-based products in the U.S. does not eliminate dangers from past exposure. After exposure to asbestos-contaminated Johnson & Johnson products, it can take 10 – 50 years for diseases to develop. Those who have used Johnson & Johnson talc products should discuss their exposure with a doctor.
Court Documents Show Decades of Asbestos Cover-ups
The Olsons’ lawyers presented evidence during trial showing Johnson & Johnson was aware of the asbestos-contamination in their talc. They also asserted the company did not react appropriately to protect consumers.
According to company documents from as early as the 1960s, Johnson & Johnson executives were notified the talc contained asbestos. The Olson’ legal team claimed the company did not address the health hazard and instead changed its testing methods. The lawyers say the change in procedural testing was to cover up the presence of asbestos.
Olson Case Under Appeal Again
According to Johnson & Johnson spokespeople, the company plans to appeal the verdict on the Olsons’ case again.
As of publication, there have been no updates to the company’s appeal of the Olsons’ case.
Johnson & Johnson continues to appeal multiple lawsuits related to its talc products. Asbestos victims also continue to come forward after receiving cancer diagnoses.