NEW YORK – Johnson & Johnson has appealed the judgment of an asbestos cosmetic talcum powder action asserted by Donna and Robert Olson in May 2018. The notice of appeal was filed on December 7, 2020 in the New York Supreme Court for New York County. The plaintiffs argue that the asbestos cosmetic talcum powder caused Olson to develop pleural mesothelioma.
The original judgment in this case was a jury award of $325 million, including compensatory and punitive damages. However, the award was reduced to $120 million ($15 million in compensatory damages and $105 million in punitive damages) after the court concluded that “the maximum constitutionally sustainable ratio of punitive to compensatory damages in this case is 7:1, not 12:1.” The Court noted that this “is the first time since at least 1994 (and perhaps the first time ever) that a New York City Asbestos Litigation jury has been asked to award punitive damages or to determine the amount of a punitive-damages award.”
The defendants listed eleven arguments for why the verdict should be reversed, including that the damages remain excessive and unconstitutional, even after the reduction.
Olson v. Brenntag North America Inc., et al., Nos. 2020-04856 & 2020-04860 (N.Y. Sup. Ct., App. Div., First Dept.).