Posted in Firm News on May 25, 2018
On May 24th, a California jury delivered a $25.7 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson linking use of their baby powder to mesothelioma, a deadly asbestos-based cancer. This is the second trial in as many months that has gone in favor of the plaintiff, suggesting that Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder products may be contaminated with asbestos – a carcinogen that has a definitive link to mesothelioma.
A day earlier, a California state court awarded 68-year-old Joanna Anderson $21.7 million in compensatory damages with additional punitive damages to be determined at a later date. Jurors unanimously substantiated Anderson’s claims that she developed mesothelioma due to regular use of the company’s baby powder, holding Johnson & Johnson liable for trace amounts of asbestos in their powder.
Anderson used baby powder regularly for decades on her hands while bowling, and on her kids to remedy diaper rash. She estimates that she went through at least 2 bottles a month, using the powder at least 10,000 times in her lifetime.
The jury found Johnson & Johnson was liable for 67% of the compensatory damages, as Anderson was also exposed to asbestos when watching her husband repair their car.
This is yet another verdict against the pharmaceutical giant suggesting their baby powder products are contaminated with enough deadly asbestos to cause mesothelioma in users. In April, jurors in New Brunswick, New Jersey ruled in favor of the plaintiff, Stephen Lanzo, who claimed that his mesothelioma was linked to a lifetime of regular baby powder use. As a result, the court ordered Johnson & Johnson and Imerys Talc America to pay $117 in total combined damages.
Asbestos appears in talc-based powder products (such as baby powder) in the form of tremolite. Both talc and tremolite are forms of magnesium silicate and can be frequently found in close vicinity to each other in talc mines. When talc is mined, it can often be contaminated with amounts of asbestos.
Johnson & Johnson claims their talc powder has always been free of asbestos and claims they frequently test for it in their products. However, although the FDA dictates that all talc powder must be tested for asbestos, Johnson & Johnson are not obligated to do so. Baby powder falls under the category of cosmetic-grade talc, which is not beholden to the same strict FDA regulations as medical-grade talc products.
Ultimately, it remains to be seen what will be done regarding Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder products. As more trials come to an unfavorable verdict, they may have to seriously reconsider their process, and hopefully implement more regulations and restrictions to ensure their products are indeed free of asbestos or any other dangerous carcinogens