Judge reduces jury award


baby-powder J&J

J&J has been ordered to pay US$120 million in damages to a woman who blamed her cancer on use of the company’s baby powder

Johnson & Johnson has persuaded a New York judge to reduce the US$325 million (AU$444 million) payout a jury awarded Donna Olson, 67, and Robert Olson, 65, in May last year following a trial.

Ms Olson blamed her mesothelioma cancer on asbestos exposure from using the company’s baby powder, and a judge from the state supreme court in Manhattan agreed there was evidence to support the jury’s verdict.

However US media reports that Justice Gerald Lebovits found the damages were too high, cutting the award to $120 million (AU$164 million).

J&J will appeal the whole verdict, spokesperson Kim Montagnino said.

The company reportedly faces almost 22,000 claims that its powders caused ovarian cancer and mesothelioma, a rare cancer linked to asbestos exposure.

In May this year, Johnson & Johnson announced it would stop selling its talc-based Johnson’s baby powder in the United States and Canada in what it called a “commercial decision”.

However the company has denied that its products cause the life-threatening illnesses or that its talc was tainted by asbestos.

Ms Olson’s mesothelioma is reportedly “at an advanced stage”. The woman testified that she had used Johnson’s baby powder daily for more than 50 years.

This article was prepared with information including that from Bloomberg, Reuters and The Washington Post.

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