Saturday, 23 March, 2019

Johnson & Johnson Hit With $29 Million Verdict In Mesothelioma Case

California jury orders J&J to pay US$29 million in latest talc cancer trial Woman awarded $29m in damages in Johnson & Johnson cancer case
Orlando Vargas | 16 March, 2019, 08:45

A California jury returned a $29.4 million verdict in a trial involving a woman who believes that her mesothelioma is tied to her regular use of Johnson & Johnson's talcum powder.

A jury in California has ordered Johnson & Johnson (J&J) to pay more than $29 million to a woman who claimed that asbestos in its talc-based powder products caused her cancer. Leavitt was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the internal organs that is associated with asbestos.

Despite the verdicts, Johnson & Johnson maintains that its baby powder formula does not contain asbestos, and set up a website called "Facts about Talc" to try and dissuade the public from continuing to think one of its most popular products contains the harmful mineral.

Johnson & Johnson has appealed all of the plaintiff verdicts, and the company said it is confident the verdicts would be overturned on appeal. It said there had been "serious procedural and evidentiary errors" and that lawyers for Leavitt had failed to show the baby powder contained asbestos. Asbestos is often found intertwined with talc.

The investigations followed a Reuters report that claimed that J&J knew about the presence of asbestos traces in its products for the last 50 years and failed to disclose this to national regulators and customers.

What's new. Another jury ruled against J&J Wednesday night, and near midday on Thursday, the company's stock was down 0.8% while the broader S&P 500 index was 0.1% higher.

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The history of talc and asbestos cases against Johnson & Johnson is mixed.

Johnson & Johnson said it will appeal Wednesday's decision.

The company has long argued multiple studies have shown the powder to be free of the carcinogen and that plaintiffs' cancers were tied to asbestos exposures at work or though building materials in homes or offices. After the judge refused, that panel ordered J&J to pay a total of $27.5 million in damages to a woman who sued the company over her cancer.

Johnson's Baby Powder is immensely popular across the world, including India where its manufactured locally.

On Tuesday, the House Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy also took a closer look at the science that may link talc to cancer and explored the possibility of creating a law that would more closely regulate the cosmetic and personal products industry.

"I don't think they made a good case" that J&J's Baby Powder "contained a significant enough amount of asbestos contamination to cause the illness", she said.

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