A jury in California has ordered Johnson & Johnson (J&J) to pay more than $29 million to a woman who claimed that asbestos in its talc-based powder products caused her cancer. The jury found that J&J knew about the potential risks that its baby powder was contaminated, but failed to warn the woman, Teresa Leavitt. Leavitt was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the internal organs that is associated with asbestos.
The jury awarded Leavitt $22 million for her pain and suffering, $5 million to compensate her family members, nearly $1.3 million for her medical costs and $1.2 million for her lost wages, according to her lawyer.
J&J says its product is safe. But asbestos, a carcinogen that can exist underground near talc, was a concern inside the company for decades.
J&J said that it was disappointed with the verdict and that it planned to appeal. As in past cases, which the company has fought with mixed success, it said that decades of testing showed that its baby powder did not contain asbestos or cause cancer.
More than 13,000 plaintiffs have sued J&J over what they say are cancers caused by its talc products. The New York Times reported last year that the company had spent decades trying to keep negative information about the potential risk of asbestos contamination from reaching the public.
In July, a jury in Missouri awarded $4.69 billion to 22 women who claimed that asbestos in J&J products, including its signature baby powder, caused them to develop ovarian cancer. In December, the company lost a motion to reverse the verdict.
Source: The New York Times, March 14, 2019