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Articles Posted in Talcum Powder and Cancer

A Florida state jury recently handed down a substantial $9 million verdict in a talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuit brought by an 82-year-old woman who claimed she developed mesothelioma from years of using talc-based products contaminated with carcinogens. The talcum powder cancer lawsuit named New Jersey-based pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson as the defendant, claiming that the company knew for decades about the risk of asbestos in its talcum powder products but provided no warnings to consumers.

The verdict comes just days after a New Jersey jury handed down an even larger verdict on behalf of four plaintiffs who claimed they too developed various forms of cancer from using Johnson & Johnson’s iconic Baby Powder. In that case, the jury determined that the plaintiffs were entitled to $750 million in compensatory and punitive damages, though that verdict will be reduced in accordance with New Jersey state law.

In the Florida case, the Miami jury heard testimony that Johnson & Johnson executives knew as far back as the 1960s that talc mined from deposits in Vermont and Italy contained asbestos fibers but failed to provide any warning to consumers about the risks of asbestos exposure. As a result of years of exposure to asbestos fibers in Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder, the plaintiff developed mesothelioma, a rare and deadly form of cancer that commonly affects thin linings of tissue surrounding vital organs such as the lungs, abdomen, and heart.

After nearly a two-week-long asbestos cancer trial, pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson agreed to a rare settlement with the plaintiff who alleges she developed a rare and deadly form of lung cancer as a result of using one of the company’s most popular and iconic talc-based products. As part of the settlement, the New Jersey-based company reportedly agreed to pay the plaintiff $2 million and resolve the case without admitting any wrongdoing in the matter.

The settlement is a rare move by Johnson & Johnson, which faces an estimated nearly 17,000 other cases alleging plaintiffs developed serious forms of cancer, including mesothelioma, from using asbestos-contaminated talcum powder products produced and marketed by the company. To date, jurors in state courts in California, Missouri, and New Jersey have handed down verdicts in favor of plaintiffs totaling over $5 billion in total compensation, including punitive damages for what the juries deemed especially reckless conduct on Johnson & Johnson’s part.

Johnson & Johnson was not the only defendant in the case to reach a settlement. The 61-year old plaintiff also named London-based Rio Tinto Minerals as a defendant, which reportedly mined the talc that was used in the Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder the plaintiff allegedly developed mesothelioma from. As a result of settlements with all parties involved, the Oakland County jury was dismissed and will no longer need to deliver a verdict in the case.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced that it will host a public forum discussing the methods used to test for asbestos fibers in talc-based products, as well as the terminology and criteria that can be used to measure the carcinogen in consumer products. During that forum, the FDA will discuss preliminary recommendations from the Interagency Working Group on Asbestos in Consumer Products (IWGAC)—an interagency working group formed in 2018 to support the development of standardized testing methods for asbestos and other harmful particles.

The purpose of the IWGAC is to address the terminology and definitions of asbestos, recommend improvements for measuring asbestos in talc-based products, and recommend testing standards to test these products. The FDA forum comes two-years after the agency first began investigating reports of asbestos in talcum powder products, during which time it tested 50 such products and confirmed the presence of asbestos in some. One of those examinations in October 2019 revealed the presence of asbestos fibers in a lot of Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder, which caused the company to voluntarily recall 33,000 bottles of the iconic product.

Specifically, the IWGAC recommends adopting the term elongate mineral particles (EMP) to be “any mineral particle with a minimum aspect ratio of 3:1,” as to resolve ambiguity and disagreement of asbestos vs non-asbestos identification. Testing laboratories report all EMP having a length of over 500 nm and that testing methods specify reportable EMP identified as certain types of asbestos.

Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky recently appeared in a New Brunswick, New Jersey courtroom to testify in a talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuit brought by four plaintiffs who claim they developed a serious form of cancer from years of using one of the company’s most iconic products. The talcum powder lawsuit alleges that the plaintiffs developed mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure from using Johnson & Johnson products like Baby Powder and Shower to Shower while the pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant knew about the risk posed to consumers but chose not to provide any safety warnings on the products.

During his testimony, Gorsky indicated that he relied on company experts when he announced on national television that Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder does not contain asbestos and was safe for consumers to use. Despite Gorsky claiming that he did not have firsthand knowledge of the science behind Baby Powder risks, revelations have surfaced in recent months that the company knew for decades about possible risks and that the company still chose to market its products to vulnerable and marginalized communities.

Furthermore, Johnson & Johnson was forced to issue a recall of 33,000 bottles of Baby Powder after independent testing conducted on behalf of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) discovered the presence of asbestos fibers in the product lot. Those tests have since spurred Congressional oversight committees to call for standardized testing methods and terminology to dispel ambiguity about how results are interpreted and ensure the public at large is protected from products containing deadly asbestos.

Johnson & Johnson’s long time talc supplier is reportedly shopping the sale of its North American talc operations after filing for bankruptcy under the weight of thousands of asbestos cancer lawsuits in which the company was enjoined with the pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant. Those lawsuits, which thus far have produced billions in plaintiffs verdicts, claim that Johnson & Johnson and Imerys produced and marketed talc-based products like Baby Powder and Shower to Shower which contained deadly asbestos fibers and caused the victims’ debilitating and often fatal health conditions.

Among the assets up for supposed sale, Imerys is reported to consider selling strategic alternatives that could include the sale of business in North America as a whole. In February 2019, Imerys filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, citing that the company was facing more than 14,000 lawsuits in the United States at the time. Reports stress that deliberations are still at an early stage and that no final decisions have been reached as of yet.

The reports are significant in that the proceeds from the sale of Imerys’ North American talc operations could be used to fund settlements of talcum powder cancer lawsuits, through some form of a trust. To do so, Imerys would ultimately need to negotiate with creditors, which would include insurers and those parties involved in asbestos cancer lawsuits.

The House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Reform recently held a hearing examining health risks related to the use of talcum powder products containing asbestos, as well as the detection methods used to keep the public safe. The hearing comes on the heels of news that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced had detected asbestos in one lot of pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and that the company would voluntarily recall 33,000 bottles of the product.

Johnson & Johnson currently faces an estimated 15,000 talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuits across the country brought by plaintiffs claiming their serious medical conditions, including various forms of cancer, were caused by decades of using Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder. Many of those lawsuits allege the plaintiffs developed mesothelioma, a rare and deadly form of cancer directly linked with exposure to microscopic asbestos fibers.

While talc itself does not contain asbestos, the two are both naturally occurring minerals which can often be found side by side one another, creating the possibility of cross contamination if precautions are not taken to protect innocent consumers. Despite federal laws requiring talc products to be asbestos-free, strong evidence exists that Johnson & Johnson continued to produce talc-based products that tested positive for asbestos.

A New Jersey Superior Court judge recently denied a motion by the defendant in a talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuit which sought to set aide a multimillion dollar verdict handed down by a state jury to a group of plaintiffs who claimed they developed serious forms of cancer due to asbestos fibers in talc-based products produced by the defendant. That lawsuit claimed pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson knowingly sold asbestos-contaminated talcum powder products for years, without any warnings to consumers about the known risks of asbestos exposure.

In September 2019, a Middlesex County, New Jersey jury handed down a $37.3 million verdict to four plaintiffs who claimed they developed mesothelioma cancer as a result of using talc-based products, such as Baby Powder and Shower to Shower, produced by Johnson & Johnson. That trial took place in the city of Brunswick, New Jersey, where Johnson & Johnson’s corporate headquarters is located. The company faces thousands of other such lawsuits in state and federal courts across the country.

Johnson & Johnson’s post-trial motion, which the judge recently denied, had asked the judge to set aside the trial court’s verdict on a multitude of legal grounds. However, that motion was denied by the judge on the grounds that the proceedings in the case had not yet concluded, as the jury’s $37.3 million award only included damages for lost wages, medical bills, other monetary damages, and pain and suffering. The case is set to enter a new phase relatively soon, as the jury will decide what, if any, punitive damages Johnson & Johnson will be required to pay the victims.

A recent report by Reuters details troubling links between the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson concerning efforts by safety advocates to conduct testing and provide warning labels to consumers about the potential risks of asbestos contamination in talcum powder products. The investigation details how, over decades, the FDA often relied upon testing or otherwise deferred to individuals linked to Johnson & Johnson when making determinations about the safety of the company’s talc-based products.

The special report shows that since the 1970s, federal regulators have deferred to Johnson & Johnson when independent scientists and researchers brought up concerns that talcum powder products may be contaminated with carcinogenic asbestos. When a line of cosmetics products tested positive for asbestos back in March 2019, the FDA noted “We are dependent on manufacturers to take steps to ensure the safety of their products.” Most recently, Johnson & Johnson conducted a voluntary recall of its iconic Baby Powder after the FDA found that the product tested positive for asbestos.

In chronicling the FDA’s deference to Johnson & Johnson, the report shows that federal regulators were concerned about asbestos fibers in talcum powder as far back as the 1970s, but quickly ended inquiries after assurances from companies using talc that their products were safe. Eventually, the role of monitoring and testing talc-based products fell to the Cosmetic Toiletry and Fragrance Association after convincing the FDA that manufacturers were best suited to conduct oversight.

Attorneys representing plaintiffs in thousands of talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuits recently asked a federal judge to allow additional supplementation in evidentiary proceedings following the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) testing of talcum powder products. The judge’s ruling in these key evidentiary proceedings are expected to have a tremendous impact on how the thousands of cases in federal court against pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson will play out over the coming months and years.

In October 2019, the FDA announced that samples taken from certain lots of Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder tested positive for trace amounts of deadly asbestos fibers, prompting the company to issue a voluntary recall of an estimated 33,000 bottles of its iconic product. In the wake of those positive asbestos tests, the plaintiffs’ lawyers have filed Freedom of Information Act requests with the FDA to obtain documents related to the lab tests, and asked Johnson & Johnson to provide discovery regarding the same materials.

Attorneys for the asbestos cancer victims have asked the New Jersey federal judge presiding over the key evidentiary hearings to allow the plaintiffs to include the additional information gathered in their legal briefs for the proceeding. Those proceedings, known as Daubert hearings, will decide which of the 39 expert witnesses named by both sides will be allowed to be presented to potential juries in the estimated 12,400 cases on the docket in federal courts across the country.

An Idaho jury recently awarded a 71-year-old Idaho woman $43.3 million verdict in a talcum powder mesothelioma cancer lawsuit alleging the defendant caused her condition by knowingly marketing its carcinogenic talc-based products. The lawsuit named New Jersey-based  pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson as the defendant, asserting that the company knew for decades about the risk of asbestos in its Baby Powder and Shower to Shower would post to consumers but provided no warning.

The Los Angeles jury deliberated for six days before reaching its verdict, agreeing with the plaintiff that her mesothelioma cancer was caused by talc-based products manufactured and sold by Johnson & Johnson. The verdict was a repudiation of positions taken by Johnson & Johnson and its attorneys which asserted that the victim’s cancer was not caused by asbestos exposure in talc, but rather due to atmospheric exposure while living in an industrial area of Los Angeles decades earlier.

The jury’s award included $1.2 million in economic damages which includes past and future medical expenses, $6.5 million for past noneconomic damages, $20 million for the plaintiff’s husband and $12.6 million for future noneconomic damages. Jurors were presented evidence that the victim’s cancer tissue contained both anthophyllite and tremolite asbestos, which are two forms of the mineral that have been confirmed to be in Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder as well as their Shower to Shower product.

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