Jury delivers $25M verdict in Johnson & Johnson asbestos case

By Daniel Uria  |  May 24, 2018 at 8:06 PM
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May 24 (UPI) -- A California jury delivered a $25.75 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson, ruling the company didn't warn consumers about health risks related to asbestos in its baby powder.

Joanne Anderson and Gary Anderson brought the case against the company after she developed pleural mesothelioma -- a type of cancer caused by asbestos exposure.

"Instead of pulling the powder from the market or going with a safer alternative such as corn starch, they engaged in a multi-decade campaign wherein they hid testing data from the [Food and Drug Administration], altered reports to make them more favorable and lied to consumers. This jury saw Johnson & Johnson documents that were never given to the public or the FDA," Chris Panatier, an attorney for the Andersons, said.

Joanne Anderson said she was an avid bowler and regularly used Johnson's Baby Powder on her hands and shoes for years and also used it to help with diaper rash when her children were younger. Experts estimated she used the product more than 10,000 times in total.

Jurors issued the verdict including $21.75 million in compensatory damages and $4 million in punitive damages, and found Johnson & Johnson liable for two-thirds of the verdict amount and the entirety of the punitive amount.

The remainder of the fault was spread among other companies named in the lawsuit related to exposure to asbestos Anderson experienced while watching her husband work on his car.

"Our clients are hopeful that this verdict can further bring light to this unbelievable example of corporate misconduct. Johnsons Baby Powder has contained asbestos for decades," attorney David Greenstone said in a statement.

Johnson & Johnson has denied its talc contains asbestos and said it will continue to fight similar cases in court.

"We are disappointed with the verdict and we will begin the appeals process. We will continue to defend the safety of our product because it does not contain asbestos or cause mesothelioma," spokeswoman Carol Goodrich said. "Over the past 50 years, multiple independent, non-litigation driven scientific evaluations have been conducted by respected academic institutions and government bodies, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and none have found that the talc in Johnson's Baby Powder contains asbestos."

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