Johnson & Johnson must pay cancer-stricken woman $29mn in latest talcum trial

Lloyd Doyle
March 15, 2019

A jury in a California Superior Court in Oakland determined that defective Baby Powder was a "substantial contributing factor" to Terry Leavitt's mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer that affects the tissue that coats internal organs, the Associated Press reports. It was the first of more than a dozen talc cases against the company scheduled for trial in 2019. "The jury verdicts are not medical, scientific or regulatory conclusions about a product", it said.

A United States jury on Wednesday ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $29 million (Rs 202 crore) to a woman diagnosed with cancer, who alleged that the asbestos in the firm's talcum-powder-based products caused her disease, Reuters reported.

But while talc is used for the skin, thanks to its moisture-absorbing properties, asbestos was used for insulation.

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

Ovarian cancer is the other cancer type at the heart of the J&J cases.

The jury deliberated for two days before delivering its verdict, which was broadcast online by Courtroom View Network.

"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 jury declined to award punitive damages.

J&J was found mainly liable for Teresa Leavitt's mesothelioma.

Two previous cases have led to victories against the conglomerate, including a July 2018 multi-plaintiff ovarian cancer case that awarded $4.69 billion in damages to the victims.

The company has denied all asbestos-related allegations, including a Reuters report that claimed executives knew for years that the powder contained the carcinogen.

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. The company is now embroiled in roughly 13,000 lawsuits brought by people who claim the company's products caused or contributed to serious health issues, the AP reports. The jury did not award punitive damages - created to punish defendants - from Johnson & Johnson and the other companies involved in making the talcum powder.

The company cited "serious procedural and evidentiary errors" and said it has already moved for a mistrial on eight points.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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