J&J Reaches Rare Mid-Trial Talc Settlement In CA, Faces Punitive Phase In NJ Trial

Posted by David Siegel on Jan 10, 2020 3:09:28 PM

Maimon openings

CVN screenshot of plaintiff attorney Moshe Maimon delivering his opening statement in California

Oakland, California - Johnson & Johnson has agreed to settle a cosmetic talc trial that began late last year in California state court, while the company also faces unusual punitive damages phase before a different jury than awarded compensatory damages in New Jersey.

The California settlement was announced January 6 in Alameda County. According to media reports J&J agreed to pay $2 million to resolve a 61-year-old woman’s allegations that she developed mesothelioma from inhaling asbestos supposedly present in Johnson’s Baby Powder.

Rio Tinto Minerals, another party in the case making its first appearance as a co-defendant with J&J in a cosmetic talc trial, also reached a confidential settlement.

A J&J spokesperson characterized the settlement as a one-off, noting the company has secured a string of recent defense verdicts even in light of the explosive news disclosed last year that the company would voluntarily recall a batch of baby powder after FDA testing revealed it contained asbestos, a finding J&J vehemently denies.

The full trial proceedings leading up to the settlement were webcast and recorded gavel-to-gavel by Courtroom View Network, which has similarly covered most of the cosmetic trials to date involving J&J’s products.

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CVN is currently webcasting another closely-watched J&J talc case that began Monday in New Jersey state court, where the company faces the unusual situation of defending punitive damages claims before a different jury than the one which awarded $37.3 million in compensatory damages to three women in September.

That initial verdict came as part the first consolidated, multi-plaintiff trial (also webcast by CVN) involving mesothelioma-related talc claims against J&J. The jury returned the verdict after the presiding judge made the drastic decision to strike J&J’s entire closing argument, prompting vigorous but ultimately unsuccessful calls by the company’s attorneys for a mistrial.

The California case is captioned O’Hagan v. Johnson & Johnson, case number RG19019699, in Alameda County Superior Court.

The New Jersey case is captioned Barden v. Johnson & Johnson, case number MID-L-1809-17, in Middlesex County Superior Court.

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Topics: Asbestos, California, new jersey, Talc