Mesothelioma victims whose victory over Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder has already resulted in an award of $37 million in compensation are now in court asking a New Jersey jury to punish the consumer giant by awarding them additional funds in punitive damages.
The lawsuit was filed by three mesothelioma patients and the estate of another who has already died of the disease, and one of the victims spent today telling the jury about how his life has changed, and about his preparation for his own death. Sixty-year-old David Etheridge says that his illness was caused by exposure to asbestos in Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder that was used on him when he was an infant.
Jury Told That Johnson & Johnson Knew of Asbestos and Mesothelioma Risk
In mesothelioma lawsuits and other personal injury trials, punitive damages are separate and different from compensatory damages. While compensatory damages are meant to pay victims back for economic damages that they’ve suffered, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering, punitive damages are specifically meant to punish defendants for their egregious wrongdoing. In the case of Johnson & Johnson, the victims have accused the company of being well aware of their product’s asbestos contamination. They accuse the company of choosing profits over the people who were put at risk, and point to internal memos and testimony that support their position.
In speaking to the jury, David Etheridge explained what his life had been like prior to his mesothelioma diagnosis, and how it had changed since. The Presbyterian minister was forced to retire earlier than he had planned, and since that time submitted to an eleven-hour operation that left him hospitalized for more than three weeks. Several organs were removed, and since that time he has had immunotherapy and chemotherapy. He described having drawn up a will and purchasing a cemetery plot.