Appeals Court Dismisses $224 Million Talc Verdict Against Johnson & Johnson

Stephen Katte
By Stephen Katte
October 5, 2023Business News
Appeals Court Dismisses $224 Million Talc Verdict Against Johnson & Johnson
A sign on a building at the Johnson & Johnson campus shows their logo in Irvine, Calif., on Aug. 28, 2019. (Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images)

A New Jersey appeals court has dismissed the $224 million jury verdict against Johnson & Johnson that was awarded to four people who allege they developed cancer from using the pharmaceutical company’s tainted talcum powder products.

In 2019, Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay New Jersey residents Douglas Barden, D’Angela McNeill-George, William Ronning, and David Etheridge $37.2 million in compensatory damages and $750 million in punitive damages.

The total sum was reduced to the lower figure of $224 million under New Jersey state laws.

Johnson & Johnson appealed the court’s decision in 2020, arguing the three experts used as the crux of the argument by the plaintiffs during the trial presented flawed or incomplete information.

A three-judge appeals court panel agreed on Oct. 3, and in their ruling found the expert testimony from Jacqueline Moline, William Longo, and James Webber was not scientifically sound enough to be admissible.

As a result, the jury verdict has been reversed.

According to the appeals judges, the experts had not explained the facts or methods they used to support the opinion that the plaintiffs developed cancer owing to exposure to asbestos in talc products.

Containers of Johnson's baby powder
Containers of Johnson’s baby powder are displayed on a shelf in San Francisco, Calif., on July 13, 2018. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

“In sum, the trial court erred when it admitted Webber’s and Moline’s testimony about cleavage fragments and Longo’s extrapolation testimony,” the ruling said.

“These errors, taken singularly or collectively, were harmful and require the reversal of the jury verdict.”

The judges also found the trial court failed to fulfill its “gatekeeping role” of assessing whether the plaintiffs’ experts based their testimony on sound science.

Chris Placitella, a New Jersey attorney who helped represent Mr. Barden, Mr. Etheridge, Ms. McNeill-George, and Mr. Ronning told CBS in a statement his clients are disappointed in the appeals court’s decision.

“Everyone involved knew that no matter what the result this case would eventually be presented to the New Jersey Supreme Court,” he said.

“We look forward to the opportunity to do so.”

Johnson & Johnson has maintained its products are safe and the lawsuits have no merit.

In an Aug. 11, 2022 statement announcing the discontinuation of the talc powder products in question, the pharma company reiterated its stance.

“We stand firmly behind the decades of independent scientific analysis by medical experts around the world that confirms talc-based Johnson’s Baby Powder is safe, does not contain asbestos, and does not cause cancer,” the company said.

Mountain of Lawsuits Against Pharmaceutical Company

Johnson & Johnson has faced thousands of lawsuits over allegations its talc products can contain asbestos and cause cancer.

The pharmaceutical firm attempted to stave off the flood of litigation with an April 4 proposal of a $8.9 billion settlement, payable over 25 years, to resolve all the current and future talc claims.

The proposal and the Chapter 11 filing of Johnson & Johnson’s subsidiary LTL Management were eventually rejected by federal judge Michael B. Kaplan.

The court found the company’s financial situation didn’t warrant legal protection from its creditors since it wasn’t in any “immediate financial distress.”

This ruling scuttled the proposed settlement deal.

The Epoch Times has contacted Johnson & Johnson for comment.

From The Epoch Times

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