Monday, 25 March, 2019

Johnson & Johnson hit with $29.4 million verdict in talcum powder case

California jury orders J&J to pay US$29 million in latest talc cancer trial Woman awarded $29m in damages in Johnson & Johnson cancer case
Laurie Berry | 16 March, 2019, 08:48

Johnson & Johnson's baby-powder problems continued as a California jury decided the company must pay $29 million to a woman who claimed the company's talcum powder-based products gave her cancer.

It is the latest in as many as 13,000 pending lawsuits against the company related to body powders containing talc, according to the annual report the company filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

A United States jury on Wednesday ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $29 million (Rs 202 crore) to a woman diagnosed with cancer, who alleged that the asbestos in the firm's talcum-powder-based products caused her disease, Reuters reported.

Plaintiff Teresa Leavitt is a mother of two who said J&J's talc products were used on her as a child, and she used it herself into adulthood, Bloomberg reports.

In a statement, Leavitt's lawyer Moshe Maimon said the internal J&J documents seen by the jury have "laid bare the shocking truth of decades of cover-up, deception, and concealment by J&J". J&J said it was disappointed with the verdict and would appeal, citing "serious procedural and evidentiary errors" in the course of the trial. It said the woman's lawyers failed to show that the baby powder contained asbestos. A judge awarded plaintiffs claiming that the baby powder caused cancer $4.7 billion in July.

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.

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Talc is a soft mineral that is often found with asbestos.

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. Johnson & Johnson is still appealing the verdict.

Amid the scrutiny, Reuters late a year ago published a report alleging that J&J knew about asbestos in its talc for decades.

What's new. Another jury ruled against J&J Wednesday night, and near midday on Thursday, the company's stock was down 0.8% while the broader S&P 500 index was 0.1% higher. They said their baby powder "is safe and asbestos-free".

Johnson's Baby Powder is immensely popular across the world, including India where its manufactured locally. But she added that she didn't think Leavitt's lawyers proved that her cancer was the result of exposure to talc.

Ovarian cancer is the other cancer type at the heart of the J&J cases.

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