Jury awards $4M in punitive damages for talc lawsuit against J&J by woman with mesothelioma

by Eric Pearson

A jury in California has awarded $4 million in punitive damages to a woman who was diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer caused by exposure to asbestos in Johnson & Johnson talcum powder products. The verdict was the second legal defeat for Johnson & Johnson in lawsuits filed over the link between asbestos in its talc brands and mesothelioma.  Earlier this week, the jury in the case awarded $21.7 million in compensatory damages to Joanne Anderson, who was diagnosed with mesothelioma, and her husband.

According to the lawsuit, Anderson was exposed to asbestos in Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder products, causing her to develop mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a deadly form of cancer that can affect the lining of the heart, lungs, or abdomen. Asbestos exposure is the only known cause of mesothelioma.

Because talc and asbestos are often found close together when they are mined, experts have raised concerns about the risk of asbestos contamination in talcum powder. Although Johnson & Johnson has claimed that its talc products are free from asbestos, recent tests have raised concerns that the company’s testing procedures may not be accurate enough to guarantee that Johnson’s Baby Powder, Shower to Shower, and other talc products sold by the company are 100% asbestos-free.

During the trial, Johnson & Johnson denied that its talcum powder brands contain asbestos or that they can cause cancer. However, Anderson’s attorneys argued that because talc and asbestos can easily become mixed together during the mining and manufacturing process, it was impossible for Johnson & Johnson to guarantee that its talc products were free from asbestos contamination.

Out of the $21.7 million total compensatory damages award in the cases, Anderson’s attorneys said that Johnson & Johnson was assigned 67% of the damages award.  Several companies that supplied talc to Johnson & Johnson – including Cyprus Amax Minerals and Honeywell International – would be responsible for the remainder of the compensatory damages award.

The verdict was the second legal defeat for Johnson & Johnson in lawsuits involving talcum powder and asbestos. Earlier this year, the company was ordered to pay $37 million in compensatory damages plus $80 million in punitive damages to a New Jersey man who developed mesothelioma cancer after years of using Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products. The company is also facing thousands of lawsuits filed by women who were diagnosed with uterine cancer or ovarian cancer after using J&J’s talc brands.

Talcum Powder Lawsuits Filed by Heygood, Orr & Pearson

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed cancer – including mesothelioma or ovarian cancer – after using talcum powder or baby powder products sold by companies like Johnson & Johnson, you may qualify to file a lawsuit. The first step in filing a claim is to speak with an experienced product liability attorney to learn more about your legal rights.

The lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson are representing dozens of women who have been diagnosed with cancer after using talcum powder. Our firm has also filed lawsuits on behalf of our clients in a number of other product liability matters, including cases involving dangerous drugs, defective medical devices, and other commercial products.

For more information about whether you may qualify to file a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson or other talcum powder manufacturers, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson for a free legal consultation. You can reach us by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by completing our free case evaluation form at the top of this page to get started.

by Eric Pearson

Eric Pearson is a licensed attorney and a partner at HO&P who handles commercial and personal injury lawsuits. Eric has been selected to the Super Lawyers List, a Thomson Reuters publication.