Testimony has concluded in California’s latest trial involving the alleged link between Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powders and mesothelioma.
According to a talcum powder lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, Plaintiff Carolyn Weirick alleges that her exposure to Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower – beginning in her infancy and continuing through her entire life – caused her to develop the often-deadly form of cancer. She further alleges that the talc used to manufacture those products was tainted with asbestos, the leading cause of mesothelioma. (Case Number BC656425)
During Friday’s closing arguments, Weirick’s attorney asserted that she was entitled to damages totaling $29 million, alleging that the evidence presented at trial proved that Johnson & Johnson was aware for years that its talc contained trace amounts of asbestos. He further asserted that the company’s failure to warn of this danger was intentional and reflected a desire on the part of Johnson & Johnson to protect its bottom line.
For its part, Johnson & Johnson denies that its talc-based powders ever contained asbestos and disputes that any link exists between the products and cancer.
The California case is the sixth talcum powder lawsuit involving mesothelioma allegations to go to trial in the United States.
In April, 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.
And just a month later, a California jury ordered Johnson & Johnson and its talc suppliers to pay $27.1 million to a woman who allegedly developed mesothelioma because of asbestos-tainted Baby Powder. The jury later added $4 million in punitive damages to that award, after finding that Johnson & Johnson acted with malice, oppression, or fraud.
Last November, a different California jury ruled in favor of Johnson & Johnson at the conclusion of another talcum powder mesothelioma lawsuit. A third California case ended in a mistrial when the plaintiff passed away.
South Carolina was scheduled to begin its second talcum powder mesothelioma trial last week, but the case was settled just before jury selection was to commence. The state’s only other talcum powder trial ended in a mistrial earlier this year.
Overall, Johnson & Johnson is named a defendant in more than 10,000 talcum powder lawsuits. However, the majority of these cases have nothing to do with asbestos, and instead allege that merely using Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower for feminine hygiene over an extended period of time increases a woman’s risk for ovarian cancer.
Several talcum powder ovarian cancer claims have already been tried, with juries ruling for plaintiffs 6 times and awarding damages ranging from $55 million to $417 million. Johnson & Johnson is currently appealing these verdicts and has so far managed to have three tossed.
In July, the state of Missouri concluded the first ovarian cancer trial involving allegations of asbestos-tainted talcum powder. The jury in that case ultimately ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $4.7 billion to 22 women – or their survivors – after finding that the company failed to warn consumers that Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower might contain the toxic substance.