February 26, 2020

Johnson & Johnson Hit with Punitive Damages Verdict in New Jersey

A jury in New Brunswick, NJ ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay punitive damages in connection with a consolidated trial of four plaintiffs with talc exposure claims.

A jury in New Brunswick, NJ ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $750,000,000 in punitive damages in connection with a consolidated trial of four plaintiffs claiming to have developed mesothelioma as a result of using talc powder products contaminated with asbestos fibers. These cases had been tried to verdict on liability in September 2019 – that portion of the trial resulted in a combined compensatory damages verdict of almost $40,000,000 and was notable for Johnson & Johnson's entire summation being stricken from the record as inappropriate. The punitive damages verdict was subsequently reduced to $186,000,000 by the trial judge in accordance with New Jersey law limiting punitive damages verdicts to no more than five times a compensatory damages verdict in the same case. Johnson & Johnson's CEO Alex Gorsky was compelled to testify in the punitive damages phase of this trial with respect to statements he had made regarding the company's knowledge of talc-related hazards and his sale of stock in the company following a Reuters article detailing the company's alleged internal knowledge of such hazards.