A woman in New York who developed cancer after using baby powder has accepted a reduced payout of $120 million after being awarded $325 million by a jury last year.
Back in June 2019, a jury in New York City slammed Johnson & Johnson with a $325 million verdict in favor of Donna Olson, a woman from Brooklyn who was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2016.
Olson blamed her cancer on her 50-year habit of using Johnson’s Baby Powder, which she said contained asbestos-tainted talcum powder. With every puff of the product, she breathed asbestos.
Her lawyers presented evidence that J&J knew for decades that talc may contain asbestos, but did nothing to warn consumers of the risk.
On November 11, Justice Gerald Lebovits of the New York Supreme Court in Manhattan upheld the jury’s finding of liability, but reduced the payout from $325 million to $120 million, finding that it was too high.
Olson and her husband were given a choice — take the $120 million, or have a new trial.
The Olsons accepted the lower payout, which includes $15 million in compensatory damages and $105 million in punitive damages.
Soon afterward, lawyers for Johnson & Johnson vowed to appeal the verdict, citing “significant legal and evidentiary errors” in the trial.
Johnson & Johnson is also appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court a $2.12 billion jury verdict in Missouri in favor of several women with ovarian cancer who used baby powder and other talc products.
From at least as early as 1971 to the 2000s, internal company records and other evidence show that Johnson & Johnson’s raw talc and finished powders sometimes tested positive for low levels of asbestos.
Six months ago, Johnson & Johnson said it would permanently stop selling talc-based Johnson’s Baby Powder in the U.S. and Canada. The company is facing roughly 20,000 lawsuits from people with cancer who used talc products.