A California jury has ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $40.3 million to a woman who developed mesothelioma following years of talcum powder use.
According to a talcum powder lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, Nancy Cabibi was diagnosed with the potentially deadly cancer in 2017. Subsequent tissue samples tested positive for the presence of tremolite and anthophylite asbestos, toxic substances known to cause mesothelioma.
Cabibi claimed that both forms of asbestos are known contaminants of Shower-to-Shower and Baby Powder, two popular talc-based powders manufactured by Johnson & Johnson. Like other talcum powder cancer plaintiffs, she also alleged that Johnson & Johnson was aware that its products might contain asbestos, but concealed this information from the public to protect profits derived from their sales.
The jury hearing Cabibi’s case deliberated for six days before returning a verdict on Monday. In the end, the panel found that Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powders were defective because they contained asbestos and caused the plaintiff’s cancer.
Cabibi was awarded $20.3 million, while her husband was awarded $20 million.
Johnson & Johnson is facing more than 13,000 talcum powder cancer lawsuits in courts across the United States, all of which claim asbestos-tainted talc caused users to develop ovarian cancer or mesothelioma.
More than a dozen other juries have found for plaintiffs since claims began going to trial in February 2016. While total talcum powder cancer verdicts now exceed $5 billion, the company’s subsequent appeals have resulted in several dismissals.
Johnson & Johnson vehemently denies that its talc-based powders ever contained asbestos or caused cancer. But it has also agreed to settle four other mesothelioma lawsuits since last December.
While asbestos occurs naturally in talc, Johnson & Johnson and other talcum powder manufacturers have for years claimed all traces of the toxic substance was removed via the manufacturing process.
Late last year, however, Reuters reported the Johnson & Johnson’s raw talc and finished powders had periodically tested positive for traces of asbestos since the 1970s. While the findings concerned many at Johnson & Johnson, the company chose not to inform consumers or regulators of the findings.
In recent years, some body powder manufacturers have replaced talc with cornstarch. But Johnson & Johnson continued to sell talc-based powders, and even shifted its marketing strategy to target African-American and “curvy” women. According to Reuters, the company also sought to head-off efforts to regulate the presence of talc in cosmetic products.