Research has long linked the aggressive and fatal cancer called mesothelioma to asbestos exposure. This cancer affects the lining of the organs and can cause debilitating pain as it progresses. Mesothelioma is particularly insidious, in part because it takes so long to develop. People with mesothelioma may not get diagnosed until years or decades after their exposure.
Many people who worked in industrial settings have had to face a mesothelioma diagnosis later in their retirement years. Those who work in manufacturing, mining, construction and even vehicle repair could have had dangerous levels of exposure. The same is often true for their spouses.
More recently, the tie between commercial talc powders and asbestos has become a hot topic. People without any other significant exposure source have ended up diagnosed with mesothelioma. Johnson & Johnson continues to assert that their talc is not and never has been contaminated with asbestos, but juries don’t seem to believe that anymore.
Recent California verdict offers hope to those sickened by talc
There have been hundreds of lawsuits filed against Johnson & Johnson and similar companies in the last few years related to talc powder contamination. Some cases involve mesothelioma, while others involve ovarian cancer in women who used the product on their genitals.
This recent case in California actually involves a mother who developed mesothelioma in the lining of her lungs. The woman, who hails from Oregon, claims to have used the powder for years in her shoes and on her hands, in part because she enjoyed bowling. She also used it to prevent diaper rash on her children when they were small. The estimate provided to the court indicates she used Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder roughly 10,000 times.
Despite Johnson & Johnson continuing to claim that their baby powder has never had any asbestos contamination, the jury in this case disagreed. They awarded the woman who brought the suit an impressive $25.75 million. Of that amount, $21.75 was compensatory damage for the illness. The jury also awarded her another $4 million in punitive damages.
Companies should get held accountable for dangerous products
People often assume that products on retail shelves were carefully tested and are safe. That simply isn’t always the case. Given that asbestos often exists in close proximity to talc deposits, it is very possible for contamination to have happened on a major scale. Johnson & Johnson chooses to deny this potential, despite leaked internal documents showing that senior-level staff had concerns about the topic.
Juries seem to find their claims of zero contamination suspect, particularly in light of those internal documents. This case is just one more success story where those sickened by a dangerous product receive the compensation they deserve.