Johnson & Johnson Chief Executive Officer Alex Gorsky was set to be called as a witness on [ January 27, 2020 ] in what would be his first appearance in a jury trial over allegations that the company’s Baby Powder causes cancer.
Lawyers for three men and one woman who sued J&J subpoenaed [ Alex Gorsky ] in a trial playing out in a state courtroom in New Brunswick, New Jersey near the company’s headquarters.
All four have mesothelioma, a rare and incurable cancer that they said was caused by their exposure to asbestos in Baby Powder applied when they were diapered as infants.
During an earlier phase of the trial, the jury held J&J liable for the plaintiffs’ cancers and awarded them $37.2 million in compensation. Now their lawyers are seeking to persuade a second jury that J&J’s behavior was so reckless that punitive damages are warranted.
J&J fought the subpoena of [ Alex Gorsky ], arguing that he had no first-hand knowledge about the safety of its powders and that the case involves corporate conduct that occurred long before he joined the company in 2012. Compelling his testimony, J&J said in a motion, would set a precedent that could result in other chief executives being hauled to court and “would serve no purpose other than to harass Mr. Gorsky and divert him from his executive responsibilities.”
Last week, the New Jersey Supreme Court turned down the company’s request to suspend the subpoena, clearing the way for [ Alex Gorsky ] to be called to testify.
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