Another major verdict against the makers of Johnson’s Baby Powder was reached in Southern California last week. Lawyers from Simon Greenstone Panatier (SGP) convinced a jury to deliver a $25.75 million verdict — including $4 million in punitive damages — in favor of their client, 66-year-old Joanne Anderson of Oregon.
The plaintiff filed suit following her diagnosis with pleural mesothelioma — a cancer in the lining of the lungs caused by asbestos exposure. She used Johnson’s Baby Powder on her children when they were younger and, as an avid bowler, regularly used the product on her hands and shoes for years. Experts estimated she used the product more than 10,000 times.
SGP shareholders David Greenstone and Chris Panatier and associate Conor Nideffer represented the plaintiff in Los Angeles Superior Court before Judge Gloria White-Brown. The case is Joanne Anderson and Gary Anderson v. Borg-Warner Corporation et al., No. BC 666513 in Los Angeles Superior Court.
The jury found Johnson & Johnson liable for two-thirds of the verdict amount, ultimately finding that J&J was negligent and failed to warn customers of its dangers and that its brand contained manufacturing and design defects because of the presence of asbestos. The remaining percentage of fault was spread among other exposures that Joanne had as a bystander to automotive work her husband occasionally performed. Medical testimony in the case indicated that all of her exposures to asbestos contributed to cause her mesothelioma. In addition, one juror asked the court whether it could require Johnson’s Baby Powder to carry a warning in the future.
“In 1969, a Johnson & Johnson’s company doctor told them that if they didn’t get control of the mineral contaminants in their baby powder that they would end up in litigation years later,” said trial attorney Panatier. “Instead of pulling the powder from the market or going with a safer alternative such as corn starch, they engaged in a multi-decade campaign wherein they hid testing data from the FDA, altered reports to make them more favorable and lied to consumers. This jury saw Johnson & Johnson documents that were never given to the public or the FDA.”