Johnson & Johnson was hit with a $37.3 million verdict Wednesday after a New Jersey state jury found the company’s talc-containing Johnson’s Baby Powder was contaminated with asbestos and was a substantial contributing cause of mesothelioma in four consumers, Law360 reports.
Each of the plaintiffs – D’Angela McNeill-George, Will Ronning, Douglas Barden and David Ethridge – testified that they had inhaled clouds of J&J’s talcum powder through the years. Each was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma, a type of cancer caused by asbestos exposure that develops in the lining of the abdomen. Mesothelioma develops over the course of decades. Once diagnosed, the prognosis is dire.
Johnson & Johnson has long disputed claims its talc was contaminated with the carcinogen asbestos. This trial was no exception, as attorneys for the consumer health care giant spun internal communications and asbestos testing on the talc the company used from mines in Italy and Vermont. Medical witnesses testifying on behalf of the company said they believed the plaintiffs developed the lethal cancer spontaneously.
Attorneys for the mesothelioma patients argued that Johnson & Johnson executives covered up the evidence of asbestos in its talc. Jurors deliberated three full days before delivering the verdict in favor of the plaintiffs.
The trial, which began July 15, is one of thousands blaming Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder for causing cancer, namely mesothelioma or ovarian cancer. Many allege that the primary culprit in the product is asbestos.
Asbestos is a durable and fire-resistant mineral used in construction, friction and shipbuilding materials. It is mined from the earth in the same fashion and proximity as talc.
Sharon Zinns, who works in Beasley Allen’s Atlanta office, is leading a team handling mesothelioma claims. They are looking at cases of industrial, occupational and secondary asbestos exposure resulting in lung cancer or mesothelioma. Additionally, they are looking into claims of asbestos-related talc products linked to mesothelioma.