An appeals court recently ruled that Johnson & Johnson deserves a new trial after the company was ordered by a jury to pay $417 million to a woman who alleged her cancer was caused by her use of the company’s Baby Powder.
Despite there being enough evidence to uphold the ruling that the company did not warn the public of the potential health risks associated with the use of talc-based products, the appeals court found there was “conflicting evidence” regarding the link to cancer.
The ruling comes after several recent defeats for Johnson & Johnson, all claiming it knew its product was dangerous but failed to do anything about it.
In June, a California jury ordered the company to pay $10 million to a woman dying of cancer who alleged her disease was caused by use of the powder products. In May, a jury awarded a woman $325 million to a woman with cancer.
A Johnson & Johnson spokesperson responded to the appeals court ruling stating, that the company was looking forward to retrying the case and again demonstrating in court “that talc does not cause ovarian cancer.” He also noted other recent verdicts in favor of plaintiffs had been thrown out.
The company has also filed several motions to bar expert testimony in 12,000 upcoming cases. A decision regarding how those cases will proceed is not expected until the end of 2019. If Johnson & Johnson wins the motions those case would likely be dismissed.
The lawsuits filed against Johnson & Johnson claim that use of its powder products led consumers to develop ovarian and mesothelioma. The latter is a rare type of cancer linked to exposure to asbestos, a known carcinogenic substance often found in talc. Johnson & Johnson denies its products ever contained asbestos and stands by its argument that talc is not linked to cancer.
The company has been preparing for thousands of upcoming talc trials throughout the United States. All of the cases claim that Johnson & Johnson, and its subsidiary company Janssen, are responsible for plaintiffs developing cancer after using powdered products including Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder and Johnson & Johnson Shower-to-Shower powder.
If the trend of cases moving forward in favor of plaintiffs continues, it is expected that additional lawsuits will be filed by women who have been affected by their use of the products.
Johnson & Johnson said it would appeal several recent verdicts, claiming they have no bearing on the “medical, scientific, or regulatory conclusions about a product,” and that its products have been tested and “no traces of asbestos contamination using the most sensitive techniques available” were found.
Dangers of Talc
Talc continues to be found in cosmetics, powders, and other personal care products.
Johnson & Johnson is facing tens of thousands of lawsuits claiming its talc-based powder products are contaminated with asbestos and that their use caused women to develop mesothelioma and reproductive cancers.
In some of the cases against Johnson & Johnson, plaintiffs’ attorneys argue that the company knew its products were contaminated with asbestos. They also claim they can prove their allegations through internal company documents that reveal awareness of the dangers of the products.
There has been no definitive link between the use of talcum powder and cancer established by the medical community, but studies do show some women who use these products in the genital area tend to experience an increased risk for developing cancer.
Johnson & Johnson has agreed to comply with all government investigations and to provide any information it has related to the Department of Justice’s, the SEC’s, and the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions’ ongoing investigations.