Johnson & Johnson is facing over 14,000 claims that its talc-based products, Baby Powder and Shower to Shower, can cause ovarian cancer or mesothelioma when used for regular hygiene. Mesothelioma is specifically tied to asbestos exposure, and the plaintiffs argue that J&J’s talc supply is tainted with asbestos.
The company denies its talc products can cause these diseases or that they have ever contained asbestos. However, as we have discussed before on this blog, a Reuters investigation into the issue found that J&J has long known its baby powder contained asbestos and tried to cover it up.
Recently, two separate juries announced verdicts in mesothelioma cases alleging asbestos in J&J products. In one, a South Carolina jury found that J&J was not liable for the mesothelioma of a woman who had blamed her sickness on asbestos in Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder.
In the other, a New York jury awarded $25 million in compensation to a 66-year-old woman and her husband after finding that her mesothelioma was caused by decades of using Baby Powder and Shower to Shower. The jury will decide the question of punitive damages separately. Punitive damages are meant to punish wrongdoing.
The New York woman testified she began using J&J talc products at age eight and continued until her marriage in 1984. She said using the powder created a cloud and she breathed in talc particles.
In previous trials, the record against J&J has been mixed. In March, a California jury awarded $29 million in a mesothelioma case. On the other hand, J&J won a case in New Jersey. However, it also settled three other cases on the same day. Litigation continues around the nation, with a trial ongoing in California.
The New York case mentioned above represents the 10th win for plaintiffs since the cancer claims began appearing in 2016, along with four settlements. J&J has won seven cases and jurors could not agree in three cases. Some of the plaintiffs’ wins have been overturned, and others have been appealed.
J&J has announced that it will appeal the New York verdict.