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Jury awards $117 million in asbestos baby powder lawsuit in N.J.

Over the last few years, there has been a stark increase in the number of lawsuits filed related to talcum powders. These popular bath and beauty powders are often used on babies' bottoms to prevent diaper rash.

Women have also historically used this powder in their undergarments or directly on their genitals to reduce moisture and prevent odor. Newer evidence indicates that this could be a dangerous practice.

Tests performed by third parties have found asbestos in some commercially available baby powders. For those who aren't familiar with asbestos, it is a naturally occurring mineral which was once used in all kinds of products. Eventually, its connection to aggressive and fatal cancers led to phasing it out of use in most applications. However, in the last few decades, thousands of people may have become ill as a result of asbestos exposure, including people using baby powders.

Juries hold talc companies responsible for cancer case

After a contentious trial, a man who sought damages from talc powder companies has won his lawsuit as of April 11, 2018. A jury recently awarded a man who sued over asbestos in talc-based products. The victim in this case, a 57-year-old man, received $37 million in compensatory damages and another $80 million in punitive damages.

The victim in this case developed mesothelioma, which is an aggressive and deadly cancer commonly linked to asbestos exposure. He believes it is the result of continued use of baby powder since his birth.

The compensatory damages will offset medical expenses related to cancer treatment, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses related to the cancer. The punitive damages are meant to punish the companies involved for the damages they caused. Johnson & Johnson and Imerys Talc America (part of Imerys SA), must pay a combined $117 million to the plaintiff in this case. Both companies intend to appeal the decision.

Companies knew about potential contamination but didn't warn consumers

The companies have consistently maintained throughout the process that their products do not contain asbestos or cause cancer. However, leaked internal memos from Johnson & Johnson reveal that the company's upper management had concerns about potential contamination for years. Instead of committing to more thorough testings or printing a warning on packages about potential contamination, they simply ignored these concerns until lawsuits began cropping up.

After asbestos got linked to ovarian cancers, Johnson & Johnson has had to fight numerous personal injury lawsuits from consumers. The number of lawsuits has only continued to grow. Now that consumers know that some juries are sympathetic to the potential development of cancer as the result of using baby powder, more lawsuits will certainly follow.

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