On March 14, 2019, California jury ordered the company Johnson & Johnson to pay over 29 million dollars to a woman who sued the company claiming that the asbestos in their baby powder gave her cancer. The jury found that Johnson & Johnson was aware of the presence of asbestos in their product and was familiar with the consequences it might have on the users.
Terry Leavitt is the victim who had filed her claim with the help of her husband. The verdict is a big defeat for the company as they are probably looking at thousands of new lawsuits filed against them by people with different asbestos-related diseases.
Terry Leavitt, according to the testimony, had been using the Johnson & Johnson powder and Shower to Shower for many years during the 1960s and 1970s before she was diagnosed with mesothelioma.
Even though this verdict hit the company around three weeks ago, there are already more than a dozen cases against Johnson & Johnson scheduled for 2019. The company is facing around 13 thousand lawsuits which are mainly filed by mesothelioma and ovarian cancer victims. Already a group of 22 women who have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer has been awarded around 4.7 billion dollars.
As the disease is linked with asbestos mesothelioma lawsuit can help victims get the compensation they deserve. That goes for other diseases that might have been caused by using the products that contained asbestos as well. Ovarian cancer, lung cancer, and mesothelioma are the types of cancer often linked to asbestos exposure. The majority of mesothelioma lawsuits are settled outside of the court when both sides agree on a settlement.
For more than two months both sides have been presenting their evidence, after which the jury made the decision in two days. Almost a dozen experts on both sides participated in the trial.
It seems that the internal corporate documents of the company provided enough proof that Johnson & Johnson was well aware of the asbestos contamination and failed to inform the public about the powder’s potentially harmful effects. That was the main piece of information that convinced the jury to award over 29 million dollars to the victim. Moshe Maimon, the lawyer who represented Leavitt in court, said that “the internal J&J documents that the jury saw, once more laid bare the shocking truth of decades of cover-up, deception, and concealment by J&J.”
The company’s shares considerably decreased a day after the verdict. J&J said that they will file an appeal and that there were “serious procedural and evidentiary errors in the proceeding”. The company said it was confident that the verdict will be changed. They did not, however, provide additional detail explaining the errors.
Initially, the trial included the company’s talc supplier as well, but the judge that oversaw the trial, Brad Seligman, excluded them from the case after they filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Leavitt’s was just the first of many cases related to the Johnson & Johnson asbestos incident.