A California state jury slapped Johnson & Johnson and its onetime talc supplier Cyprus Mines Corp., with a near-$29.5 million verdict after finding the companies’ talc contained cancer-causing asbestos, which contributed to the woman’s terminal mesothelioma diagnosis, Law360 reported.
All 12 jurors found that Johnson & Johnson failed to warn consumers that using its talc-containing powders carried health risks, and that plaintiff Teresa E. Leavitt would have not used the powder had she known it was contaminated with a carcinogen that could make her sick. Johnson & Johnson was found 78 percent liable; J&J Consumer Inc., 20 percent liable; and Cyprus Mines 2 percent liable.
Leavitt claimed that her mother dusted her with Johnson’s Baby Powder when she was a baby in the 1960s, and she continued using it on her hair and face in the decades that followed. Her attorneys argued that Johnson & Johnson was aware that the talc it used contained asbestos, a known carcinogen, yet they failed to alert federal regulators or warn consumers.
The $29.5 million award included $291,000 for past medical expenses, $1 million for future medical expenses, $1.2 million for loss of earnings, $7 million for past physical pain and mental suffering, and $15 million for future physical pain and mental suffering. The jury also awarded $2 million to her partner, Dan McElroy, for past loss of love and companionship, and $3 million for future loss of love and companionship.
Johnson & Johnson faces more than 12,000 lawsuits alleging its talc-containing products contain asbestos or other impurities that have contributed to ovarian cancer and mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer caused by asbestos.
Asbestos cancer can take up to 50 years to develop. Once diagnosed, it usually proves deadly within 12 to 24 months.