The losses continue to pile up for the world’s largest healthcare goods manufacturer and a company that has staked its image and reputation on trustworthiness, wholesomeness, and products you can feel good about bringing home to your family. A New York jury, however, has peeled away yet another layer of that image and found the company responsible for a woman’s development of mesothelioma.
According to the jury, Donna Olson developed the cancer because of the asbestos found in Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder. Olson and her husband had already been awarded $25 million in compensatory damages, however, the jury found punitive damages to be warranted in addition to the compensatory award. While the amount of punitive damages will likely be reduced on appeal, the loss is another in a line of cases where juries have decided that even in the face of strong – almost defiant – denials from J&J representatives, the company’s talc products not only contain asbestos but Johnson & Johnson actively worked to conceal that fact from regulators and the general public.
The company has launched a major PR campaign after Reuters published a bombshell investigative report that showed, among other things, that Johnson & Johnson executives had known for decades that the talc they were mining contained asbestos fibers. In fact, there was solid evidence indicating that the amount of asbestos in the talc was “rather high” at times. And, this evidence was present across multiple lab tests.
It may come as a surprise then that even in the midst of the PR campaign and after internal J&J documents were published by Reuters, Johnson & Johnson continues to completely deny the presence of asbestos in its talc. Shortly after the Olson award verdict was handed down, the corporation issued a statement in which it reiterated its all-too-familiar commitment to the defense of its product. “This trial suffered significant legal and evidentiary errors which Johnson & Johnson believes will warrant a reversal on appeal,” the company said. “Decades of tests by independent experts and academic institutions repeatedly confirm that Johnson’s Baby Powder does not contain asbestos or cause cancer.”