In his first appearance in a jury trial over allegations Johnson & Johnson's baby powder causes cancer, the company's CEO, Alex Gorsky, was pressed on whether he had read all the internal documents related to potential asbestos contamination in the baby powder.
Gorsky answered saying "I did not read all the documents, but I would rely on the experts in these fields."
The CEO appeared under subpoena Monday after New Jersey's Supreme Court turned down J&J's request to suspend it.
The 4 plaintiffs all have mesothelioma, a rare and incurable cancer they allege was caused by their exposure to asbestos in Baby Powder as babies.
During an earlier liability phase of the trial, A jury agreed with plaintiffs that the company's powders had caused their cancers and awarded them nearly $40 million in damages.
Now, plaintiffs' lawyers are trying to persuade a new jury that the company's behavior was so reckless... it should award additional punitive damages.
In December 2018, a selloff wiped out $40 billion in market capitalization following a Reuters report that the company knew small amounts of asbestos had been found in its talc on occasion since 1971. J&J dismissed the Reuters' report as "an absurd conspiracy theory."
The stakes are high for J&J. It faces more than 16,000 lawsuits alleging it sold powders contaminated with asbestos and didn't warn consumers. It also faces a federal criminal investigation.