Closing arguments are expected to begin tomorrow in a closely-watched New Jersey trial involving the alleged link between Johnson & Johnson talcum powder products and mesothelioma, a deadly cancer tied to asbestos exposure.
Meanwhile, a mistrial was declared in California’s most recent talcum powder asbestos trial, even though a majority of jurors favored the plaintiff over Johnson & Johnson.
According to a talcum powder lawsuit filed in New Jersey’s Middlesex County Superior Court, Rosalind Henry claims that the talc-based powders she used for decades were responsible for her mesothelioma diagnosis in 2016, at the age of 68.
The lawsuit initially named Johnson & Johnson, Colgate-Palmolive, and Imery’s Talc America as defendants. But Colgate and Imery’s settled her claims just before opening arguments began on September 17th.
Henry is the second talcum powder plaintiff to try such a case in Middlesex County.
In April, another jury ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $117 million in compensatory and punitive damages to a man who was diagnosed with mesothelioma following his life-long use of Baby Powder.
The litigation involving Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based powders and asbestos is not limited to the company’s home state of New Jersey, as similar lawsuits are pending in several other jurisdictions, including California’s Los Angeles Superior Court.
California concluded its most recent trial on October 2nd, when a mistrial was declared due to a deadlocked jury. While 8 of the 12 jurors had voted in the plaintiff’s favor, state law requires that at least 9 jurors come to agreement before a verdict is rendered.
Two other California cases have ended in mistrial, including another hung jury on September 24th.
Johnson & Johnson won the state’s first talcum powder mesothelioma trial last November. However, the company was on the losing end of a case that concluded in May, when it was assessed $27.1 million in compensatory damages. The jury later tacked on another $ 4 million in punitive damages, after finding that Johnson & Johnson acted with malice, oppression, or fraud.
Johnson & Johnson faces thousands of additional lawsuits filed on behalf of women who allegedly developed ovarian cancer merely due to their use of talcum powder for feminine hygiene purposes. Several of these cases have already gone to trial, 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.
The first ovarian cancer trial involving allegations of asbestos-tainted Baby Powder concluded in July, when a Missouri Circuit Court jury awarded $4.7 billion to 22 women or their surviving loved ones.