Published: Sat, March 16, 2019
Markets | By Noel Gibbs

Jury Awards $29.4 Million in Talcum-Cancer Trial

Jury Awards $29.4 Million in Talcum-Cancer Trial

"Yet another jury has rejected J&J's misleading claims that its talc was free of asbestos", said Moshe Maimon, a lawyer for Leavitt, in a statement on Wednesday.

The petitioner, Terry Leavitt, said she used Johnson's Baby Powder and Shower to Shower during the 1960s and 1970s before being diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2017.

The company said it would appeal, citing "serious procedural and evidentiary errors" during the trial, saying lawyers for the woman had fundamentally failed to show its baby powder contains asbestos.

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Two previous cases have led to victories against the conglomerate, including a July 2018 multi-plaintiff ovarian cancer case that awarded $4.69 billion in damages to the victims.

The company is now fighting two asbestos-related lawsuits in New Jersey and Oklahoma courts, and two more trials could begin this month, the UBS analysts said.

Most health-care companies performed well, but Johnson & Johnson struggled with claims that its talc baby powder contained the carcinogen asbestos. Now, she has developed mesothelioma, and her doctors told the jury she's not expected to live past next year. We respect the legal process and reiterate that jury verdicts are not medical, scientific or regulatory conclusions about a product. The jury decided against awarding punitive damages, which are created to punish the defendants - in this case Johnson & Johnson and the other companies involved in making the talcum powder - for reckless or negligent behavior. Asbestos is often found intertwined with talc.

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About 8 out of 10 people with mesothelioma have been exposed to asbestos.

The investigations followed a Reuters report that claimed that J&J knew about the presence of asbestos traces in its products for the last 50 years and failed to disclose this to national regulators and customers.

Imerys Talc America Inc., which also supplied talc for J&J's powder, had been named as a defendant, but was dropped from the case after seeking bankruptcy protection to avoid being swamped with talc suits. After the judge refused, that panel ordered J&J to pay a total of $27.5 million in damages to a woman who sued the company over her cancer.

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"I don't think they made a good case" that J&J's Baby Powder "contained a significant enough amount of asbestos contamination to cause the illness", she said. They said their baby powder "is safe and asbestos-free".

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