LOS ANGELES (Legal Newsline) – Officials for Johnson & Johnson and attorneys representing plaintiffs suing the company for alleged asbestos-tainted baby powder both vowed on Tuesday to continue litigating after two recent verdicts went against the company.
“We know we must continue to fight on behalf of so many others who have been harmed,” said David Greenstone of the law firm of Simon Greenstone Panatier based in Dallas.
Officials from Johnson & Johnson said they would appeal both verdicts and maintained there is no asbestos in their baby powder.
The Greenstone firm represented Nanci Cabibi, 71, of Hauser, Idaho, achieving a $40 million verdict last week in Los Angeles after alleging that the woman contracted pleural mesothelioma, a deadly cancer of the linings of the lungs, from asbestos in baby powder.
In another case on Sept. 11, after a nearly two-month trial, the Greenstone firm obtained a $37.3 million award from a jury in the New Jersey Superior Court for Middlesex County. That trial was a rare combined case with four plaintiffs receiving portions of the total amount - $7.25 million to Douglas Barden and his wife, Roslyn Barden; $9.45 million to David Etheridge and his wife, Darlene Etheridge; $14.7 million to D’Angella McNeill; and $5.9 million to William Ronning and his wife, Elizabeth Ronning.
The plaintiffs again contended asbestos in the baby powder caused them to develop mesothelioma.
The two cases are among the thousands pending against J&J across the country, most filed by women alleging the asbestos in baby powder caused them to develop ovarian cancer. Mesothelioma is a much rarer disease, with 3,200 cases reported annually in the U.S. Cases alleging mesothelioma have become more common in recent months.
The Cabibi verdict came after a four-week trial and six days of jury deliberation.
The woman was awarded $1.2 million in economic damages including past and future medical bills, $6.5 million for past noneconomic damages, $12.6 million for future noneconomic damages, and $20 million to her husband Phil Cabibi. No punitive damages against J&J were awarded.
During the trial, attorneys for J&J attempted to place the cause of the woman’s mesothelioma as a result of living near an industrial area of Los Angeles, though attorneys for Cabibi countered that she had never entered any of the facilities but had a history of baby powder use.
“Nancy Cabibi is fighting to survive every single day because of asbestos in Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder,” Greenstone said. “We are very pleased with this verdict.”
Plaintiff attorneys in the case also included Stuart Purdy and Marissa Langhoff.
Jennifer Taylor, communications director for J&J, provided a statement that said immediate appeals would be launched in both cases.
“Johnson’s baby powder does not contain asbestos nor does it cause cancer as many global regulatory bodies have found for many years, and multiple juries in the U.S. have also found in recent months,” the statement read.
The statement went on to claim that the New Jersey verdict (Barden) came as a result of evidentiary errors and the striking of closing arguments made by company attorneys.
“That required us to move for a mistrial on nearly a dozen separate occasions," J&J stated. “We will pursue an appeal of the verdict as soon as the final phase of the trial concludes.”