A jury in New York City slammed Johnson & Johnson with a $325 million verdict in favor of Donna Olson, a woman who was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma in 2016.
As part of her treatment, she underwent an aggressive surgery to remove her diseased lung. She was too sick to attend the trial, but her husband testified that she regularly used Johnson’s Baby Powder before her mesothelioma diagnosis.
The verdict came after a 4-month trial and includes $20 million for her pain and suffering, $5 million for her husband’s loss of consortium, and $300 million in punitive damages against J&J.
Lawyers for the Olson family showed the jury evidence that J&J knew as early as the 1960s and 1970s that baby powder contained asbestos. But instead of warning consumers or switching from talc to cornstarch, J&J changed its tests to a method that did not detect asbestos, and then misled regulators with results from the new tests.
The jury concluded that Olson’s regular use of baby powder over many years caused her to develop mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive type of lung cancer that is caused by breathing asbestos.
A spokeswoman for J&J said the company plans to appeal the verdict, just as it has in several other cases it has recently lost.
Last summer, a jury in St. Louis ordered J&J to pay $4.69 billion to 22 women who developed ovarian cancer after years of using talcum powder for feminine hygiene purposes. Overall, J&J faces over 14,000 lawsuits from people who developed mesothelioma or ovarian cancer.