A New York state judge has ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $120 million in a talcum powder case brought by a woman who alleges that decades of exposure to toxic asbestos particles in the company’s talc-based Baby Powder caused her to develop an aggressive and deadly type of cancer called mesothelioma. The talcum powder cancer case was originally heard in a New York court in July 2019, and at that time, the jury awarded $25 million in compensatory damages, plus $300 million in punitive damages designed to punish Johnson & Johnson for its actions. Earlier this month, Judge Gerald Lebovits of the state supreme court in New York upheld the jury’s finding but reduced the awards to $15 million in compensatory damages and $105 million in punitive damages. If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another type of cancer and you believe exposure to Johnson’s Baby Powder to be the cause, contact us as soon as possible to find out how we can help.
Johnson & Johnson currently faces nearly 20,000 lawsuits over mesothelioma, ovarian cancer and other devastating side effects allegedly associated with its talc-based powder products. This latest talcum powder cancer verdict comes in a lawsuit filed by Donna Olson and her husband, Robert, which alleges that Donna Olson’s regular use of Johnson’s Baby Powder led to her diagnosis of mesothelioma, a fatal cancer affecting the thin tissue that lines the lungs and chest wall. The only known cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos, a natural mineral commonly found in close proximity to talc in the earth, and talc can easily become contaminated by asbestos while being mined. Consumers exposed to asbestos particles contained in talc-based products like Johnson’s Baby Powder can suffer serious health problems as a result of their exposure.
According to evidence presented at trial in Donna Olson’s case, the plaintiff developed mesothelioma after decades of exposure to asbestos in Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder. Olson reportedly used Johnson’s talcum powder from the time she was eight years old until at least 1984, and says that she regularly breathed in the powder during application, which would explain her mesothelioma diagnosis. Mesothelioma is a cancer that has an extremely long latency period, which means decades can pass between a person’s initial exposure to asbestos dust or fibers and the cancer diagnosis. Unfortunately, by the time mesothelioma is diagnosed, the cancer is typically in the advanced stages and prognosis is generally poor, with an average survival of about one year.
Claims against Johnson & Johnson allege that the company knew for years that its talcum powder products sometimes contained traces of asbestos, yet kept this critical information from consumers and the medical community. Last year, Johnson & Johnson was forced to recall 33,000 bottles of its talcum powder after the FDA found trace levels of chrysotile asbestos in samples from a bottle of Baby Powder purchased from an online retailer. Seven months later, Johnson & Johnson permanently discontinued its talc-based Baby Powder in the United States and Canada, claiming that the decision was based on declining demand due to “changes in consumer habits and fueled by misinformation around the safety of the product and a constant barrage of litigation advertising.” Johnson & Johnson has spent years insisting that its talcum powder is safe and does not cause cancer and the company has stated that it will appeal the Olson verdict to a higher court, citing “significant legal and evidentiary errors” during the trial.
Several significant verdicts have been returned in talcum powder cases that have gone to trial in courts across the country over the past several years. In 2018, a Missouri jury awarded a whopping $4.7 billion in damages to a group of 22 women diagnosed with ovarian cancer, which they alleged was caused by their routine use of talcum powder for feminine hygiene purposes. An appeals court later reduced the damages award to $2.12 billion, and despite Johnson & Johnson’s continued efforts to overturn the verdict, the company was ultimately ordered to pay the damages. There are still thousands of talcum powder cancer lawsuits pending against Johnson & Johnson and the company faces increasing pressure to negotiate talcum powder settlements to resolve claims that Johnson’s Baby Powder caused consumers’ cancer diagnoses. If you or a loved one regularly used Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products and subsequently developed mesothelioma, ovarian cancer or another type of cancer, contact Consumer Safety Watch today to discuss the possibility of filing a product liability claim against Johnson & Johnson.