Johnson & Johnson was ordered by a New York state court to pay upward of $120 million in incurred damages to a Brooklyn husband and wife after she successfully blamed her cancer diagnosis on asbestos exposure linked to the company’s baby powder products.
Justice Gerald Lebovits of the New York state supreme court branch in Manhattan ordered the court to play a reduced payout of a jury awarded $325 million settlement to $120 million to one Donna Olson, aged 67 her significant other, Robert Olson, aged 65.
The initial order came in May of 2019 after a benchmark 14-week long civil trial.
Lebovits ordered the initial settlement amount was too high and requested the Olsons to accept the $120 million amount or appeal in another trial handling overall damages.
Other court records showed that the $120 million amount includes $15 million in compensatory damages and $105 million for punitive damages.
Johnson & Johnson said that it would appeal the verdict, arguing that the judge ruled in favor of a lawsuit citing "significant legal and evidentiary errors" during proceedings.
“We deeply sympathize with anyone suffering from cancer, which is why the facts are so important,” said a Johnson & Johnson corporate spokesperson some weeks ago. “We remain confident that our talc is safe, asbestos-free, and does not cause cancer.”
Donna and Robert Olson filed an initial lawsuit against the giant healthcare company in 2017 after receiving a terminal mesothelioma diagnosis caused by a malignant tumor developed through inhaled asbestos particulates.
Donna said that she used Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder products every day for more than five decades. According to jurors in the trial, the development of her cancer necessitated liability and the health care giant's mandate to payout the large settlement.
A group of women in the U.S. state of Missouri was awarded $2.12 billion in unforeseen damages after a federal court ordered Johnson & Johnson was blamed and linked to ovarian cancer via asbestos in baby powder and other talc products sold by the company.
Several news reports cite company records and other evidence from as far back as 1971 to the early years of the 2000s, in which raw talc and finished powder products were tested for small amounts of asbestos.
As a result, Johnson & Johnson said that it would cease the sale of talc baby powder in the United States and Canada in the wake of several medical professionals, lawyers, and policymakers calling a misinformation campaign about product safety and several legal challenges like the ones reported here.
About the Lebovits decision, jurors found that Johnson & Johnson acted was "knowingly deceitful about" and "willfully blind to" to the potential health risks of its talc products in an attempt to maintain profit and market control.