A California jury orders Johnson & Johnson on May 24 to pay almost $26 million in total damages to an elderly woman who is diagnosed with asbestos-caused mesothelioma.
J&J To Pay $26 Million Due To Corporate Negligence
J&J is set to settle $4 million in punitive damages and another $21.7 million in compensatory damages to Joanne Anderson, 68, from Williams, Oregon who accused the company of corporate negligence. The prosecution cited that Johnson's Baby Powder contains harmful asbestos and that J&J failed to warn the public about its potential health dangers.
Anderson, 68, is diagnosed with mesothelioma, a deadly form of cancer that attacks the lining of the lungs. Known as a rare form of cancer, mesothelioma affects only 2,000 to 4,000 Americans annually. Patients with this type of cancer are typically asymptomatic until the disease has progressed to an advanced stage.
"We are extremely pleased that our clients have found a measure of justice, although nothing can truly compensate them for what they have lost. Johnson's Baby Powder has contained asbestos for decades. People need to know about this," said Atty. David Greenstone of Simon Greenstone Panatier law firm, Anderson's legal counsel.
Not Guilty Plea
Johnson & Johnson maintained its innocence even after the jury had decided on the outcome of the trial. The jury ruled that the company is liable for two-thirds of the verdict's amount, and the rest is attributed to Anderson's exposure to asbestos in her husband's automotive work.
"We will continue to defend the safety of our product because it does not contain asbestos or cause mesothelioma," said Carol Goodrich, J&J spokesperson.
J&J is reported to file an appeal following the results of independent studies, noting there is no asbestos content in J&J's talcum powder.
Anderson's case is one in more than 9,000 cases linking J&J's talc to a number of diseases including ovarian cancer.
Can Talc Cause Cancer?
Since 1971, nearly 40 peer-reviewed studies have established a possible link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer. The first one, which was published in The Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology of the British Commonwealth, found that 75 percent of ovarian and cervical tumors from 13 women had traces of talc.
In 2016, a study published in the journal Epidemiology also concluded that continued talc use is associated with at least 10,000 ovarian cases each year in the United States.
Panatier said J&J is aware of the dangers of its product since 1969 when a company doctor warned them about possible litigations in the future. Instead of manufacturing safer alternatives, the company reportedly pursued campaigns to undermine the results of the study and hid testing data from the U.S. Food and Drugs Administration.