Another Johnson & Johnson talcum powder lawsuit headed to trial this week, this time over allegation’s that the talc used in Baby Powder contained asbestos and was responsible for a South Carolina attorney’s death from mesothelioma.
During Monday’s opening statements in South Carolina’s Darlington County Court of Common Pleas, an attorney representing the family of Bertila Boyd-Bostic asserted that Johnson & Johnson had known for decades that Baby Powder was tainted with asbestos and accused the company of purposely concealing that information and failing to warn consumers.
“J&J’s choices are why we’re here,” he told jurors.
According to her complaint, Boyd-Bostic had used Baby Powder for most of her life. She was diagnosed with pericardial mesothelioma, a rare cancer that affects the lining around the heart, in 2016, She died in October 2017.
In addition to Johnson & Johnson, the talcum powder lawsuit names Imery’s Talc America and the Rite Aid drug store chain as defendants.
This is not the first time Johnson & Johnson has faced allegations of asbestos-tainted Baby Powder.
The nation’s first such trial concluded in November, after a California Superior Court jury found for the company.
In April, however, a jury in New Jersey’s Middlesex County Superior Court awarded $117 million in compensatory and punitive damages to a man who alleged that his life-long use of Baby Powder was the only possible explanation for his mesothelioma diagnosis. Johnson & Johnson was found 70% liable for the damages incurred by the Plaintiff and his wife, while Imery’s was found 30% responsible.
Johnson & Johnson is also named a defendant in more than 6,600 talcum powder lawsuits filed on behalf of women who allegedly developed ovarian cancer due to their long-term use of Baby Powder and Shower-to Shower for feminine hygiene purposes.
Plaintiffs in those cases claim that Johnson & Johnson has been aware of research dating to the 1970s that suggested the regular and repeated application of talc-based powders to the female genitals increased a woman’s risk for the often-deadly disease. However, the company declined to warn the public in order to protect the profits derived from the Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower franchises.
Since February 2015, a half-dozen talcum powder ovarian cancer plaintiffs have been awarded multi-million-dollar judgments ranging from $55 million to $417 million, though two of those verdicts were later overturned.