Johnson & Johnson has been hit with a substantial verdict in the latest talc trial in New Jersey. Jurors awarded $37.3 million in compensatory damages to four plaintiffs, Douglas Barden, David Etheridge, D’Angela McNeill-George and Will Ronning, for their talc-related mesothelioma injuries. Punitive damages are still to be determined. The plaintiffs were represented by Moshe Maimon of Levy Konigsberg, Chris Panatier of Simon Greenstone Panatier and Christopher Placitella of Cohen Placitella & Roth.
The plaintiffs asserted that their exposure to asbestos in J&J talcum powder as babies was a substantial cause of their mesothelioma. During the nearly two month trial there was extensive expert testimony, with J&J’s experts claiming, among other things, that J&J’s talcum products were not contaminated with asbestos and that asbestos did not cause the plaintiffs’ mesothelioma. The jury sided with the plaintiffs. J&J had sought a mistrial after Superior Court Judge Ana C. Viscomi struck the closing argument of defense counsel, Diane Sullivan of Weil Gotschal & Manges, which was denied.
After the verdict, Chris Placitella commented “We are grateful that justice was done. From all accounts was the most acrimonious battle in a courtroom that anyone has ever witnessed. The truth prevailed.”
J&J has had mixed results in talc trials, with the largest verdict against it coming in a 2018 trial in which $4.69 billion was awarded to 22 women who developed ovarian cancer after using J&J’s baby powder and Shower to Shower products.