Cosmetics and personal hygiene products company Johnson & Johnson has made massive headlines in recent months over substantial jury verdicts handed down against the company over allegations that it knew for years about the possible causal link between using talcum powder and developing ovarian cancer. Now, J&J could be open to even more liability after an internal company memo surfaced in another trial that shows it also knew its talcum powder products could also be contaminated with asbestos, a flaky white mineral known to cause the deadly lung cancer mesothelioma.
Attorneys representing more than 50 clients in a class action lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson recently unveiled internal company memos suggesting that the defendant was aware as far back as the 1970s that some of its talcum powder from a pair of mines was contaminated with asbestos. Those contaminated sources allegedly came from mines in Vermont and Italy and appear to directly contradict the company’s claims that its talc-based products have been asbestos-free since the federal government declared asbestos a dangerous carcinogen many decades ago.
Those memos, dated to 1973, state that Johnson & Johnson found two different types of asbestos in its talcum powder, prompting one company official to suggest switching its Baby Powder ingredients to corn starch instead. Furthermore, documents obtained by the plaintiffs show that the defendant went as far as to rewrite product booklets to omit the fact talcum powder from the Italian mine contained the cancer-causing mineral.
In addition to the estimated 50 plaintiffs alleging Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products caused their mesothelioma diagnosis, the company also faces over 5,000 other lawsuits from women across the country claiming the company is responsible for their ovarian cancer diagnoses. In recent years, jurors across the country have handed down $700 million in verdicts against the company in just a handful of trials, sending a strong message that the public will not tolerate indifference to public safety.
Once used in a wide range of cosmetic, industrial, and commercial applications, asbestos has been heavily regulated by federal and state governments since the mid-1970s when regulators labeled the mineral as carcinogenic. While asbestos exposure can cause a variety of serious health problems, the most severe diagnosis is mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer that commonly affects the thin lining of tissues surrounding the lungs and abdomen. Sadly, just like with the allegations in the talcum powder cases, many companies already knew about the dangers posed by the substance but continued to use asbestos without providing any type of warning about possible adverse health events as a result of exposure.
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If you or a loved one were diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact our office to speak to one of our experienced nationwide mesothelioma attorneys about your situation. Our office can help investigate your case and determine if compensation can be sought from negligent parties to help pay for your medical treatment to help you and your family live a more comfortable life.