Johnson & Johnson Secures Talc Victory in New Jersey Court, Erasing $223M Jury Award

Johnson & Johnson Secures Talc Victory in New Jersey Court, Erasing $223M Jury Award

Johnson & Johnson, in its latest effort to address the multitude of talc-related lawsuits it faces, suffered a setback when a New Jersey appeals court nullified a $223 million jury verdict awarded to four plaintiffs who alleged that asbestos in the company’s renowned baby powder had caused their cancer. The ruling was based on the contention that the lower court had erred in permitting the testimony of three scientific experts.

Originally, in 2020, the award stood at $750 million before being reduced by a judge, who cited state-imposed limitations on punitive damages. In its recent decision, the Superior Court stated, “The trial court misapplied the well-established judicial gatekeeping procedures required by our courts, and the error was not harmless in regard to the testimony. Therefore, we reverse and remand for a new trial.” Earlier this year, Johnson & Johnson had sued one of these experts, Dr. Jacqueline Miriam Moline of New York, alleging inaccuracies in her testimony. The company has also initiated separate lawsuits against three other experts involved in other talc-related cases.

Also Read: Johnson & Johnson Files Lawsuit Against Four Doctors Over Alleged Biased Opinions In Talc Defense Cases

“This marks the third time in three years that an appellate court has overturned outsized verdicts that asbestos lawyers secured by confusing and misleading juries with unscientific opinions touting baseless liability theories. The decision appropriately strikes a blow to the heart of the asbestos bar’s improper strategy and its meritless talc litigation.”

– Erik Haas, J&J’s litigation chief

Notably, two years ago, due to erroneous expert testimony in a case involving a single plaintiff, a New Jersey court nullified a $117 million jury award that had been issued in 2018.

As a result of these ongoing legal battles, Johnson & Johnson has ceased selling talc-based baby powder, opting instead for a cornstarch version of the product. “Ultimately, the court simply held that the trial judge should have held a hearing regarding the challenges to the evidence brought by J&J. J&J’s attempt to portray the ruling as some sort of indictment of the scientists who testified for the victims is fanciful, at best. We have every expectation that the evidence will be allowed at retrial, and that J&J will, once again, be held responsible by the jury.”

– Jon Ruckdeschel Maryland-based mesothelioma trial lawyer 

Also read: J&J Has Been Forced To Compensate A Mesothelioma Sufferer $18.8 Million In A Talc Dispute, But Has Vowed To Appeal

In July, Johnson & Johnson faced another setback when its second attempt to address the thousands of talc-related cases through bankruptcy proceedings was denied. According to Bloomberg, this has resulted in a rapid increase in the number of lawsuits filed against the company, with at least 11,000 new cases filed in recent months, as cited in a court transcript.

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