A California jury has shown its distrust of Johnson & Johnson’s continued assertions that its talcum powder does not contain asbestos, by awarding $29 million to a plaintiff who believes J & J’s talc-based products caused her cancer.

This latest defeat is the latest blow for a company facing more than 13,000 talc-related lawsuits.

As with the other talc lawsuits in which the plaintiff prevailed, the pharmaceutical company noted its intent to appeal the latest decision.

J & J officials stated there were “serious procedural and evidentiary errors” associated with this latest trial. Johnson & Johnson further stated the attorneys for the woman had failed to show that its baby powder with talc contained asbestos.

The jury obviously felt otherwise. 

Asbestos Contaminated Talc Lawsuit Brought by Terry Leavitt

The lawsuit was brought by Terry Leavitt. Leavitt stated she used Johnson’s Baby Powder with talc and Shower to Shower with talc throughout the 1960s and 1970s.

Leavitt was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2017.

Her nine-week trial began in early January 2019, including testimony from nearly a dozen experts on both sides. The California jury deliberated for two days prior to delivering the verdict against Johnson & Johnson.

The jury stated that the talc powder used by Leavitt was defective and that the company failed to warn consumers of the health risks, awarding $29.4 million in damages.

No punitive damages were awarded. 

J & J Supplier of Talc, Imerys, Files for Bankruptcy so Dropped from Lawsuits

One of Leavitt’s attorneys noted that “yet another jury has rejected J & J’s misleading claims that its talc was free of asbestos.”

The internal documents seen by the jury told a shocking tale of cover-ups, deception, and concealment by Johnson and Johnson, according to the attorney.

Since Reuters reported last December that J & J knew talc in its raw and finished powders sometimes tested positive for small amounts of asbestos, this was the first trial against the conglomerate. Leavitt’s trial originally included Imerys Talc America as a defendant. Imerys supplies talc to Johnson & Johnson. Imerys filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in February, thus staying any lawsuits against the company.  

J & J Baby Powder with Talc Alleged to Cause Ovarian Cancer and Mesothelioma

Earlier talc lawsuits alleged the talc in J & J baby powder and Shower to Shower was responsible for causing ovarian cancer.

However, more recently the lawyers of plaintiffs have focused on asbestos contamination in the talc, which also causes mesothelioma.

In 11 cases which have linked asbestos contamination to talc, 3 have resulted in wins for the plaintiffs, 3 were won by J & J, and 5 ended in hung juries.

J & J has not only appealed all the asbestos talc plaintiff verdicts, they have also appealed all the verdicts won by women who alleged J & J talc was responsible for their ovarian cancer. 

Justice Department Conducting Criminal Investigation Regarding Whether J & J Misled Public

The U.S. Justice Department is currently conducting a criminal investigation in an effort to determine whether J & J misled the public about the potential presence of asbestos fibers in their talcum powder—and the resulting cancer risk.

A grand jury was examining in July of this year whether J & J was aware their talc products contained trace amounts of asbestos but denied that fact.

Johnson & Johnson is the world’s largest manufacturer of talc products, including its baby powder with talc and Shower to Shower with talc. 

Getting Help for Asbestos Exposure in Louisiana

If you or a loved one has developed an asbestos-related illness, like mesothelioma or asbestosis, it can be helpful to contact our experienced Louisiana asbestos attorneys to help understand the legalities associated with asbestos exposure.

Call 504-299-1214 and speak to one of our attorneys about your legal options.