Published: Fri, March 15, 2019
Economy | By

Woman awarded $42 million in baby powder terminal cancer lawsuit

Woman awarded $42 million in baby powder terminal cancer lawsuit

Now, she has developed mesothelioma, and her doctors told the jury she's not expected to live past next year. Plaintiffs' attorneys have fundamentally failed to show that Johnson's Baby Powder contains asbestos, and their own experts concede that they are not recognizing the accepted definition of asbestos and are ignoring crucial distinctions between minerals that are asbestos and minerals that are not. The company did not provide further details of the alleged errors. "We respect the legal process and reiterate that jury verdicts are not medical, scientific or regulatory conclusions about a product", the company said. Decades of tests by independent, non-litigation driven experts and institutions repeatedly confirm that Johnson's Baby Powder does not contain asbestos or cause cancer.

Despite that the company has lost court cases. The nine-week trial began on 7 January and included testimony from almost a dozen experts on both sides.

Asbestos is a term for a group of minerals often found near talc, which is widely used in cosmetics.

About 8 out of 10 people with mesothelioma have been exposed to asbestos.

While asbestos is classified as a known carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and other groups, the ACS says the science on whether talcum powder causes cancer is more ambiguous.

It is one of the most mysterious cancers, and it's not clear why asbestos travels to ovarian tissues, but it is well-documented.

The jury deliberated for two days before delivering its verdict.


The plaintiff, Terry Leavitt, said she regularly used two J&J products in the 1960s and '70s containing talc. The jury declined to award punitive damages.

"Yet another jury has rejected J&J's misleading claims that its talc was free of asbestos", Leavitt's lawyer, Moshe Maimon, said in a statement Wednesday, slamming the "decades of cover-up, deception and concealment by J&J".

Imerys Talc America Inc., which also supplied talc for J&J's powder, had been named as a defendant, but was dropped from the case after seeking bankruptcy protection to avoid being swamped with talc suits.

Recent cases have focused on talc's link to mesothelioma, but many additional cases allege the powder has caused ovarian cancer.

A jury in Missouri a year ago awarded US$4.69 million to 22 women. Johnson & Johnson won three other cases and another five ended in hung juries.

The conglomerate said it would appeal the order and cited "serious procedural and evidentiary errors" in the trial's proceedings.

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