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How Corporate Negligence Can Quickly Escalate

September 24, 2019


After generations of baby powder ads that highlighted the soft, gentle and chafe-resistant value of Johnson & Johnson products, the multinational American corporation finds itself facing other product-liability lawsuits surrounding its pharmaceutical division. Founded in 1886, Johnson & Johnson now includes more than 250 subsidiary companies in sixty countries with worldwide distribution of household consumer products accounting for one of the world's greatest fortunes. Nonetheless, late last year a jury verdict awarded $550 million compensatory damages and $4.14 billion in punitive damages to women who claimed J&J's talc products caused their ovarian cancer. As many as 14,000 lawsuits are expected to be filed by consumers who claim to have developed mesothelioma (a terminal form of cancer) from the asbestos contained in the company's talcum baby powder.

Mixed Results Defending Its Talc Products

Although Johnson & Johnson's attorneys have had mixed results over the past decade in defending the company's position for talc products, the decisions from appeals-court hearings could prevent some future testimony, and either reshape the lawsuit or provide cause for the legal actions to be dropped. After all, the holding company, which engages in the research and development, manufacture and sale of numerous products in the health care and personal care fields, has over 130 years of experience in producing consumer products, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices. Moreover, the issue of asbestos in baby powder has been argued for years and Johnson & Johnson's products supposedly have always passed asbestos testing aimed at identifying sources of contaminated talc. However, many legal experts believe J&J knew about the cancer risk and simply failed to adequately warn consumers about its talc-based powder.

There Could Be More Doom and Gloom on the Horizon

Concerns over the iconic manufacturer's family-friendly image, and a drop in stock prices on the DOW, continue to grow as the company disputes claims and defends its management practices and decisions. Most recently, Johnson & Johnson's lesser-known pharmaceutical division (Janssen Pharmaceuticals) had to confront allegations that it played a key role in the nation's ongoing opioid epidemic. Although many experts point to the reprehensible conduct by Johnson & Johnson within its corporate cultural as a growing concern, the consumer products giant has prevailed in most cases and has had others declared mistrials. Moreover, J&J is yet to pay out significant awards to plaintiffs.

Now, the manufacturer faces charges in some states where lawmakers are accusing Johnson & Johnson of conspiring with other major pharmaceutical companies to create the worst health epidemic in American history, the opioid crisis.  J&J's drug division was founded by the biochemical engineer who invented an artificial opioid called fentanyl. This prescription-only medication uses a transdermal patch (called Duragesic) to release narcotics into the patient's bloodstream. After Purdue Pharma introduced its high-strength opioid OxyContin by falsely claiming a very low risk of addiction, Johnson & Johnson initiated a policy to aggressively broaden the marketplace for J&J's Duragesic product.

Personal injury cases involving dangerous drugs and defective consumer products are complex legal undertakings that can take years to resolve through rulings in appellate courts. If you or a loved one were injured by a dangerous product, contact Schackow & Mercadante to have your claim reviewed by an experienced personal injury lawyer. We believe that every consumer deserves accurate information about the healthcare products they use, as well as the medications they are prescribed.

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