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The news continues to get worse for pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson this month after an analysis by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that one lot of Baby Powder produced in 2018 was contaminated with asbestos fibers, prompting a recall of 33,000 bottles of the product. The analysis that discovered the asbestos in Baby Powder was conducted on behalf of the FDA by an independent laboratory run by a scientist who Johnson & Johnson has hired as an expert witness in talcum powder cancer lawsuits against the company.

That paid witness is none other than Andreas Saldivar, laboratory director of AMA Analytical Services Inc, who has served as a litigation expert on several occasions for Johnson & Johnson since 2017 in cases brought by plaintiffs who claimed they developed various forms of cancer after years of using the company’s talc-based products. In May 2018, Saldivar testified in a deposition on behalf of Johnson & Johnson and stated that testing he performed on behalf of the FDA back in 2010 showed no evidence that Baby Powder contained asbestos fibers.

In 2019, Saldivar’s lab again began testing talcum powder on behalf of the FDA and in September it tested Baby Powder samples sent to it by federal safety regulators. The testing now presents a serious challenge to Johnson & Johnson of how to discredit a single positive test for asbestos while still maintaining the integrity of one of its expert witnesses. It remains unclear how this news will affect Johnson & Johnson’s litigation efforts moving forward, including whether the company will be more likely to settle the thousands of cases pending in state and federal courts.

A new scientific report by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine suggests a strong and credible link between the use of asbestos-contaminated talcum powder products and developing malignant mesothelioma. The case study was published in the organization’s Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, looking into the cases of 33 patients confirmed to have malignant mesothelioma and whose only known exposure to asbestos may have come from using tainted talcum powder in cosmetic products.

All of the patients in the study are involved in talcum powder cancer lawsuits against cosmetics companies. The authors went into greater detail on the conditions of six patients who underwent tissue analysis showing asbestos fibers consistent with those that would be found in contaminated talcum powder. The study’s authors pointed out that the asbestos fibers discovered were not consistent with the types of asbestos fibers which would be found in industrial settings, such as insulation or other building materials.

The report is just the latest in a series of bad news for Johnson & Johnson, which currently faces an estimated 14,000 talcum powder cancer lawsuits accusing the company of knowingly manufacturing and marketing dangerous talc-based products. Thus far, juries in state and federal courts have awarded plaintiffs over $5 billion in combined compensation in trials against Johnson & Johnson, which continues to litigate cases and deny responsibility for any wrongdoing.

With the signature of Governor Gavin Newsom, California recently passed a law aimed at protecting mesothelioma cancer victims during the fact-gathering stage of an asbestos cancer lawsuit. The bill, SB 645, would limit the number of hours defendants would be able to question plaintiffs under oath in cases where plaintiffs can demonstrate to the courts that they have less than six months to live.

SB 645 places a seven-hour limitation on defendants’ deposition examination (where attorneys question witnesses under oath) in cases in which a licensed physician provides the court with a written declaration stating that the plaintiff has mesothelioma and there is substantial doubt whether he or she will live longer than six months. In cases in which there are more than 10 defendants named in the lawsuit, defendants may request an additional three hours of deposition testimony, and an additional seven hours of testimony if more than 20 defendants are involved in the lawsuit.

The law allows the courts to grant those time extensions in cases in which such an extension is in the interest of fairness, and the health of the plaintiff would not be endangered by the additional testimony time. The law’s passage with the governor’s signature is welcome news for mesothelioma cancer victims who are often subjected to hours and hours of intense questioning by defense attorneys, all while the plaintiff’s health is in decline while batting the serious form of cancer.

Pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson was recently hit with another class action talc lawsuit, this time in Canada, over claims that a pair of its talc-based products are responsible for the plaintiffs cancer diagnosis which devastated her life. The lawsuit is just another in the estimated 14,000 Johnson & Johnson faces across the United States and now Canada, over claims that the company knowingly sold talcum powder products contaminated with deadly asbestos fibers.

The talcum powder lawsuit seeks to name the plaintiff representative of a class action lawsuit to recover $11 million in general and punitive damages for the harm suffered due to Johnson & Johnson’s negligence. Johnson & Johnson has thus far consistently denied any of its products contain asbestos fibers and have vigorously defended similar claims brought by plaintiffs in the United States alleging the same as the Canadian plaintiff.

According to the asbestos cancer lawsuit filed in a Calgary, Canada claims court, the plaintiff developed ovarian cancer after years of using Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower talcum powder products. Specifically, the plaintiff claims she used Johnson & Johnson’s Shower to Shower from the ages of 13 to 36 years old, later undergoing a series of surgeries and a hysterectomy in the 1990s, which she attributes to asbestos in the product.

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