Johnson & Johnson wins asbestos talc lawsuit

Our previous North Carolina blog posts have reported on the product liability lawsuits facing companies, like Johnson & Johnson (J&J), Whittaker, Colgate-Palmolive, Clark & Daniels and Justice for their talcum powder products. J&J has consistently maintained its innocence, denying that its products contain asbestos and claiming that its talcum powder is safe.

J&J faces about 5,500 lawsuits over talc-related claims based on allegations that the company failed to warn women about the risk of developing ovarian cancer from using its products. Five trials in Missouri found J&J liable for plaintiffs’ ovarian cancer and the plaintiffs were awarded $307 million. However, a Missouri judge threw out the first verdict for $72 million.

One California woman (now deceased) suffering from ovarian cancer recently won $417 million against J&J, the largest verdict of its kind against the company to date. But, another California judge threw out that verdict as well.

The most recent case was brought by a woman who claimed she developed mesothelioma after being exposed to J&J’s talcum-based products. She pointed to J&J’s internal documents as evidence that the company was aware that its products contained asbestos but continued to sell them for decades despite that knowledge.

The jury found in favor of J&J as well as the talc supplier, Imerys Talc. In a statement, J&J noted that Johnson’s Baby Powder has been around since 1894 and asserted that its products do not contain asbestos nor cause mesothelioma or ovarian cancer. However, the plaintiff’s attorney in this case says that this case is not indicative of future verdicts; he believes that it is only a matter of time before similar plaintiffs win their product liability lawsuits.

Source: Reuters, “Johnson & Johnson wins California lawsuit claiming asbestos in talc caused cancer,” Nate Raymond, Nov. 16, 2017