New Jersey Judge Denies Johnson & Johnson’s Request to Set Aside $37.3 Million Verdict

A New Jersey Superior Court judge recently denied a motion by the defendant in a talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuit which sought to set aide a multimillion dollar verdict handed down by a state jury to a group of plaintiffs who claimed they developed serious forms of cancer due to asbestos fibers in talc-based products produced by the defendant. That lawsuit claimed pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson knowingly sold asbestos-contaminated talcum powder products for years, without any warnings to consumers about the known risks of asbestos exposure.

In September 2019, a Middlesex County, New Jersey jury handed down a $37.3 million verdict to four plaintiffs who claimed they developed mesothelioma cancer as a result of using talc-based products, such as Baby Powder and Shower to Shower, produced by Johnson & Johnson. That trial took place in the city of Brunswick, New Jersey, where Johnson & Johnson’s corporate headquarters is located. The company faces thousands of other such lawsuits in state and federal courts across the country.

Johnson & Johnson’s post-trial motion, which the judge recently denied, had asked the judge to set aside the trial court’s verdict on a multitude of legal grounds. However, that motion was denied by the judge on the grounds that the proceedings in the case had not yet concluded, as the jury’s $37.3 million award only included damages for lost wages, medical bills, other monetary damages, and pain and suffering. The case is set to enter a new phase relatively soon, as the jury will decide what, if any, punitive damages Johnson & Johnson will be required to pay the victims.

Additionally, Johnson & Johnson had asked the judge to remove one of the plaintiffs from being considered for the punitive damages phase of the trial on the grounds that since that individual had passed away since the verdict was rendered, the jury would be prejudiced against the company. In disagreeing with the defendant’s argument, the judge pointed out that other civil lawsuits in the state had allowed deceased plaintiffs to be considered for punitive damages.

Johnson & Johnson faces an estimated 14,000 other talcum powder lawsuits across the country brought by plaintiffs who claim Johnson & Johnson knew for decades that its talc was contaminated with asbestos fibers but continued to sell them without any health warnings. Thus far, juries have awarded a combined total of over $5 billion in compensatory and punitive damages to dozens of plaintiffs who claim they developed serious forms of cancer, including mesothelioma, from years of using the company’s talc-based products.

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