Litigation Update: New Jersey Jury Delivers a $186 MM Punitive Damages Verdict Against J&J

Litigation Update: New Jersey Jury Delivers a $186 MM Punitive Damages Verdict Against J&J

On February 6, Johnson & Johnson was ordered by a New Jersey jury to pay $750 MM in punitive damages to four plaintiffs suffering from mesothelioma as a result of their use of J&J’s asbestos-contaminated baby powder; the parties had previously been awarded $37.3 MM in compensatory damages after a two-month long trial before a separate jury in September, 2019.  The verdict followed several days of testimony in which plaintiffs alleged J&J knowingly sold asbestos-tainted baby powder and acted maliciously or in wanton and willful disregard; moreover, it was alleged that J&J had hidden evidence of the contamination with reckless indifference to the consequences.

J&J CEO Alex Gorsky was compelled to testify in the punitive damages phase of the trial about statements he made on national TV in 2018 contending the company’s baby powder was safe; he stated he had relied on internal experts in making those claims.

In his closing, plaintiffs’ counsel Chris Panatier had urged the jurors to award an amount of punitive damages that was not a number (the company) “would laugh at”.

The trial was held in J&J’s backyard in New Brunswick and jurors deliberated for about two hours before reaching their conclusion.  Citing New Jersey law, the presiding judge, Judge Ana C. Viscomi, reduced the verdict to $186.5 MM, or an amount approximately five times the compensatory damages that had been previously awarded.

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Author: Edward Lott

Edward Lott, Ph.D., M.B.A. is President and Managing Partner of Allentown-based ForLawFirmsOnly Marketing, Inc., an agency specializing in client acquisition for law firms nationwide. ForLawFirmsOnly specializes in generating Zero Risk Mass Tort Cases™, Zero Risk MVA Cases™ and Zero Risk Legal Leads™. Ed has been a digital entrepreneur since 1994, having discovered very early the opportunities the Internet offered. After having spent over two decades helping attorneys grow their practice, Ed joined the staff of ForLawFirmsOnly Marketing as President and Managing Partner, where he is expanding the agency’s cutting-edge services to the legal market. A true marketing futurist, Ed's vast experience working directly with attorneys has given him a unique perspective on law firm marketing not found in many other digital marketing agencies. Ed has reshaped the offerings of ForLawFirmsOnly to focus on growing law firms through a holistic approach to digital marketing evident in the reformulated lead generation processes now in place that focus on client acquisition. Want to learn more about ForLawFirmsOnly Marketing, their client acquisition programs, or just talk to Ed about his visions for helping law firms grow? Call him at 855-943-8736.

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