As One Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Lawsuit Trial Nears its End, Another Begins

Published on March 25, 2019 by Laurie Villanueva

A long-running mesothelioma trial involving Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder is nearing its end game in New Jersey’s Middlesex County Superior Court, as the parties prepare to present closing arguments later today.

At the same time, a California jury will begin hearing much of the same evidence when yet another Johnson & Johnson talcum powder lawsuit goes to trial in Los Angeles Superior Court.

Asbestos-Tainted Talc Allegedly Caused Cancer

The New Jersey trial began in late February.  According to his complaint, Ricardo Rimondi, 58, regularly used Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder during the first 50 years of his life and was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2016.

Rimondi alleges that Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based body powders are tainted with asbestos, and argues they are the only possible explanation for his cancer. (Case No. L-2912-17)

In California, Gail Koretoff, 36, also blames her life-long use of Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower for her 2016 mesothelioma diagnosis. (Case No. BC656506)

Johnson & Johnson Has Lost 3 Talcum Powder Mesothelioma Trials

Johnson & Johnson currently faces more than 13,000 lawsuits nationwide that claim the company’s popular talcum powder products caused mesothelioma or ovarian cancer.

So far, Johnson & Johnson has lost three mesothelioma trials:

  • March 13, 2019: $29 million verdict in California’s Alameda County Superior Court
  • May 2018: $25.7 million verdict in Los Angeles Superior Court
  • April 2018: $117 million verdict in Middlesex County Superior Court.

Johnson & Johnson did win one mesothelioma lawsuit that went to trial last year in New Jersey, and another heard by a California jury. Two California cases also resulted in hung juries, as did another that went to trial in South Carolina.

The most recent talcum powder ovarian cancer trial concluded last August, when a Missouri jury ordered the company to pay $4.7 billion to 22 plaintiffs. Johnson & Johnson lost a motion to toss that verdict in December.

Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Controversy

The Alameda County case was the first to go trial since a Reuters investigation revealed Johnson & Johnson’s raw-talc and finished powders have periodically tested positive for minute amounts asbestos since the early 1970s.

Although most of the tests commissioned by the company were negative for the cancer-causing chemical, the occasional asbestos findings did raise serious concerns among Johnson & Johnson executives and attorneys. However, they chose not to warn the public or regulators out of concern that such a disclosure would undermine Johnson & Johnson’s “caring” image.

Other internal documents highlighted in the Reuters’ report suggested Johnson & Johnson worked aggressively to undermine efforts to regulate talc in consumer products, as well as research into its possible health effects.

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