Johnson & Johnson Forced To Pay 2.1 Billion - Part II
A Missouri court of appeals decision adds to the mountain of evidence piling up against the company
Friday, June 26, 2020 - It would be an understatement to say that the decision to chastise Johnson & Johnson for knowing it had an asbestos problem and failing to warn consumers dealt a devastating blow to its ability to defend itself in tens of thousands of similar lawsuits. Although the judge ruled that the punitive damages cut in half, the amount awarded each of 22 plaintiffs still approached $100 million each. St. Louis Today reported that the jury arrived at that amount by factoring in its annual baby powder profits. "In finding for the plaintiffs, the St. Louis Circuit Court jury arrived at the award by multiplying the roughly $70 million Johnson & Johnson earned selling baby powder in a recent year by the 43 years it's been since the company claimed the baby powder did not contain asbestos," according to St. Louis Today. The court also stated for the record that the damages were enormous because the profits the company made selling and misinforming the public was also enormous. The trial was the first to allege that the talc in Baby Powder could be contaminated with asbestos and cause ovarian cancer. Previous trials focusing on asbestos was limited to plaintiffs with a lung cancer called mesothelioma, the signature disease of inhaling asbestos fibers. Asbestos fibers are sharp and cause microscopic lacerations in lung tissue that heal over time producing inelastic scar tissue that builds up and impairs breathing. Over time mesothelioma victims succumb to suffocation.
The jury's decision to maintain the original verdict comes at a time when the evidence against Johnson & Johnson's talcum powder asbestos cover up is building. The US FDA recently conducted independent tests of Johnson's Baby Powder talc and found it to contain asbestos as did tests by several microscope researchers testifying on behalf of various plaintiffs. Johnson & Johnson has stopped selling Johnson's Baby Powder containing talc in the United States and Canada due to what the company says is a genera product restructuring however JNJ is believed to be less than forthcoming since it is voluntarily forfeiting billions in baby powder profits. St. Louis Today also pointed out that in 2018 Reuters published an investigative report claiming "it knew for decades that asbestos lurked in its talc." Also, Johnson & Johnson internal memos that were brought to light in recent trial exposed company marketing executives grappling with the direction they should take given recent asbestos findings.
Johnson & Johnson is also under criminal investigation for lying about their ongoing knowledge of talc asbestos contamination. Finally, 41 states are investigating Johnson & Johnson for targeting African American and obese women with their advertising claiming that using the product would elevate their social status to that of their white counterparts. Talcum powder cancer attorneys representing individuals and families nationwide and have a winning track record litigating against big corporations and offer a free consultation before filing a claim.
The trial brought forth by the 22 ovarian cancer victims was the first that consolidated so many plaintiffs into one group, which the defense argued was a reversible error. JNJ attorneys argued that each plaintiff's case should have been heard separately for many reasons, the main one being that each person had a different work, residential, and medical history where they could have been exposed to asbestos. Most older municipal buildings contained asbestos insulation for many years before the cleanup began in the 1070s.