Johnson & Johnson Settles Trio of Talcum Powder Asbestos Lawsuits

Just weeks after a California jury handed down a substantial $29 million plaintiff’s verdict, Johnson & Johnson has settled three other talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuits with victims and families. Those and other lawsuits against the pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant claim that plaintiffs developed serious health conditions, including mesothelioma and other cancers, due to years of using Johnson & Johnson talc-based products like Baby Powder and Shower to Shower.

The most recent case was settled in Oklahoma, just hours after an Oklahoma City-jury began its deliberations into whether or not Johnson & Johnson’s Baby powder was a contributing factor in a 77-year-old victim’s development of peritoneal mesothelioma. On the same day, Johnson & Johnson settled another talcum powder cancer lawsuit in the middle of a trial brought by a 36-year-old who claimed she too developed mesothelioma from years of using talcum powder products produced and marketed by the company.

The third settlement involved a New York asbestos cancer lawsuit slated to begin this month. The settlements are a rare occurrence in the history of Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder lawsuit litigation as the company has typically chosen to litigate these types of cases until the end, rather than negotiate with plaintiffs. Johnson & Johnson faces an estimated 13,000 additional asbestos cancer lawsuits across the country accusing the company of causing various types of cancer.

Complicating matters for Johnson & Johnson is that its talc supplier, Imerys Talc USA, recently declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which effectively left Johnson & Johnson as the sole defendant to stand trial in potentially thousands of future trials.

Internal company documents presented at the trials show that the company may have known for decades about the presence of asbestos in some of its most popular products. Those revelations were brought out at other talcum powder asbestos cancer trials in 2018 and chronicled in a December report that same year by Reuters that examined thousands of pages of internal Johnson & Johnson documents going back decades. The reporting suggested that despite several positive tests for deadly asbestos fibers in its talc supplied by Imerys Talc USA, the company continued to market its products without any warnings to consumers.

Although talc does not contain asbestos itself, the two are both naturally occurring minerals often found in deposits near each other. Because of this proximity, talc suppliers must take special precautions when mining the mineral to ensure there is no asbestos contamination which could put innocent people at risk for developing serious health conditions like mesothelioma, a rare and deadly form of cancer directly linked to asbestos exposure.

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