Johnson & Johnson Loses One Talcum Powder Lawsuit, Quietly Settles Another

Published on February 28, 2020 by Laurie Villanueva

Johnson & Johnson lost yet another talcum powder lawsuit yesterday, when a Florida jury awarded millions in damages to a woman who says asbestos-tainted talc caused her mesothelioma.

The verdict came just days after the company agreed to settle a similar mesothelioma lawsuit just moments before the case was set to go to trial in New York City.

$9 Million Talcum Powder Verdict in Florida

The Florida talcum powder lawsuit was filed on behalf of Blanca Mure-Cabrera, an 82-year-old woman who used Johnson’s Baby Powder most of her life. She claimed the raw talc used to manufacture the product was tainted with asbestos, a toxic mineral directly linked to the development of mesothelioma.

Although asbestos if frequently found in talc, Johnson & Johnson insists that the substance is removed during processing. However, Mure-Cabrera and other talcum powder lawsuit plaintiffs contend that company executives have known since the 1960s that its raw talc could be tainted with asbestos but failed to warn consumers.

The jury hearing her case in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court apparently agreed, finding that Mure-Cabrera’s use of Baby Powder contributed to the development of her cancer. Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay Mure-Cabrera $9 million in damages.

Yesterday’s verdict marked Johnson & Johnson’s second trial loss this year in a massive litigation that includes nearly 18,000 lawsuits alleging a link between the long-term use of talcum powder and cancer. Last month a jury in New Jersey Superior Court had ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $750 million in punitive damages to four plaintiffs who blamed asbestos-tainted talcum powder for their mesothelioma.

New York Talcum Powder Settlement

Earlier this week, Johnson & Johnson agreed to settle another talcum powder lawsuit for an undisclosed amount. Plaintiff Laura Shanahan, 62, had allegedly used Baby Powder since childhood and was diagnosed with mesothelioma last October.

New York Supreme Court Justice Barbara Jaffe had just provided instructions to the jury convened to hear Shanahan’s case when attorneys asked to meet privately in her chambers. Upon returning, the judge dismissed jurors and announced that the case had been settled.

“The decision to resolve any particular case in no way changes our overall position that our talc is safe, is asbestos free and does not cause cancer,” a company spokesperson said in an email to Bloomberg News. “We do not have any organized program to settle Johnson’s Baby Powder cases, nor are we planning a settlement program.”

The New York case was not the first time Johnson & Johnson has agreed to settle a talcum powder lawsuit involving mesothelioma. In fact, since December 2018, the company has agreed to confidential settlements in four other cases that were at trial or close to going to trial in New York, Oklahoma and California.

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