California Jury Orders Johnson & Johnson to Pay $29 Million in Latest Guilty Verdict Over Talc Power

Howard Raphaelson
Partner, Attorney

In the latest guilty verdict over its controversial talcum powder, conglomerate Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay more than $29 million to a woman who alleged her terminal cancer was caused by asbestos contained in the popular consumer product.

Johnson & Johnson Found Guilty After a Lengthy Trial

Johnson & Johnson has been the center of numerous personal injury and product liability lawsuits. To date, enough evidence has been demonstrated by attorneys to suggest the company was aware decades ago of the asbestos contamination issue associated with its talcum powder products. Johnson & Johnson denies guilt, maintains the ingredients in its personal hygiene products are safe, and continues to use talc in its powder products.

This week another jury disagreed with the corporate giant when it issued another guilty verdict.

Teresa Leavitt suffers from mesothelioma, a serious cancer that lines the lungs and other organs. She alleged Johnson & Johnson played a role in the development of her illness because she regularly used the company’s branded talcum powder. Attorneys for the plaintiff contend the product contained asbestos, a known cancer-causing element. The trial began in January 2019 and on March 14, the jury reached its verdict.

The California jury found the company 98 percent guilty of damages and awarded compensatory damages totaling $29.4 million to Leavitt and her spouse, Dean McElroy. The jury did not award the couple any punitive damages but did say in their verdict the talcum powder was a “substantial contributing factor" of her cancer.

Shares for Johnson & Johnson slipped after the guilty verdict was issued.

According to media sources, Johnson & Johnson could face up to nearly 14,000 additional cases as they make their way through various legal systems across the United States. New York City will be one city to watch in the very near future as four notable talcum powder cases make their way through the legal system. Many attorneys have come forward with evidence the company had knowledge asbestos contamination was present in its talcum powder.

Our hearts go out to the victims and friends and family of victims who have suffered mesothelioma or ovarian cancers from this defective product.

The Link Between Talcum Powder and Cancer

Talc is a soft mineral that is often connected with asbestos, which is a carcinogen and has long been viewed as a cancer-causing agent. Yet, many cosmetic and health care companies use talc in products such as baby powder, adult body and facial powders, and numerous other consumer products because of its natural ability to act as a moisture absorber. Parents use it in the diaper area of their babies and women use it in their genital areas.

In addition to the mesothelioma cancers, many ovarian cancer cases linked to talcum powder have emerged because these women have used Johnson & Johnson's talcum powder products. Juries have also been awarding many of these victims favorable verdicts. Five previous juries awarded found in favor of plaintiffs in those cases and awarded them amounts of $4.7 million (2018), $26 million (2018), $117 million (2018), $110 million (2017), $70 million (2016), and $55 million (2016).

Johnson & Johnson maintains there is no link and says their products are safe. The consumer health care company has been appealing verdicts. However, the scientific community is still debating and researching the link between talcum powder and cancer because the findings have been mixed. There seems to be enough evidence the use of talc in personal hygiene products is questionable. According to some studies, women with ovarian cancer were 30 percent more likely to have used talcum powder.

Contact Us Regarding a Talcum Powder Lawsuit

As verdicts have illustrated, women whose ovarian cancer diagnosis are related to the use of talcum power have begun to receive financial compensation for their suffering and the terrible injustices they have suffered due to corporate greed. Some victims have joined together in class action lawsuits while others are filing individual lawsuits. If you, or a loved one, are also suffering, a defective product lawyer NYC can help you to either join an existing class action lawsuit or file your own case.

To learn more about product liability, ask questions regarding the link between talcum powder and asbestos, or to receive a free legal consultation, please call us at 212-268-3222. Regardless of how you want to handle your case, the attorneys at Raphaelson & Levine are here to help you.

Howard Raphaelson
Partner, Attorney
Howard A. Raphaelson founded Raphaelson & Levine Law Firm, P.C. in 1992 after graduating from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York City, NY. With over thirty years of experience as a personal injury lawyer, he has earned a trusted reputation from his peers, judges, and top leaders, including recognition among the top 5% injury attorneys as a “Super Lawyer” (Thomson Reuters) and “New York’s Best Lawyers” (New York Magazine).

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