A California jury hit Johnson & Johnson with more than $25 million in damages after finding that the company’s talc-containing products contained asbestos, which caused a woman’s rare form of cancer.
The jury awarded plaintiffs Joanne and Gary Anderson $4 million in punitive damages on top of $21.7 million in compensatory damages. According to legal news source Law360, during deliberations over punitive damages, the jury asked the court if, instead of punishing Johnson & Johnson by ordering another monetary award, if jurors could require the consumer health care giant to place a warning label on its talc-containing products. The court said no.
Joanne Anderson filed her lawsuit in June alleging she developed malignant mesothelioma from using Johnson & Johnson’s talc-containing products, which she claimed were contaminated with asbestos. Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs and other organs. It is caused by exposure to asbestos, a fibrous mineral that can be found near talc deposits.
The Andersons’ lawsuit claimed that Johnson & Johnson knew for decades that the talc used in its Johnson’s Baby Powder and other talcum powders was contaminated with asbestos but failed to warn consumers of this risk.
Johnson & Johnson, which for more than a century has been promoting its baby and body powders as safe even for infants, is facing a wave of lawsuits from consumers who claim its talc-containing products caused mesothelioma and ovarian cancer. Last month, a New Jersey jury hit Johnson & Johnson and its talc supplier Imerys Talc America with $37 million in compensatory damages and $80 million in punitive damages after finding the company acted with reckless indifference by selling talcum powder products that caused a man’s mesothelioma.