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J&J found liable for California woman's talc-linked cancer

16 March 2019
J&J found liable for California woman's talc-linked cancer

The nine-week trial began on 7 January and included testimony from almost a dozen experts on both sides.

J&J, which has steadfastly denied its baby powder is contaminated with asbestos, still faces more than 13,000 lawsuits claiming its 135-year-old baby powder line caused mesothelioma and ovarian cancer.

But while talc is used for the skin, thanks to its moisture-absorbing properties, asbestos was used for insulation. The minerals on their own aren't risky, but together they are a recognized carcinogen.

While asbestos is classified as a known carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and other groups, the ACS says the science on whether talcum powder causes cancer is more ambiguous.

They can cause inflammation, scarring, damage cells' DNA, cause changes that result in uncontrolled cell growth.

The plaintiff, Terry Leavitt, said she regularly used two J&J products in the 1960s and '70s containing talc.

The jury deliberated for two days before delivering its verdict.

The award is compensatory damages only, to repay the couple for their loss. "The internal J&J documents that the jury saw, once more laid bare the shocking truth of decades of cover-up, deception and concealment by J&J".

'Yet another jury has rejected J&J´s misleading claims that its talc was free of asbestos, ' said Moshe Maimon, a lawyer for Leavitt, in a statement on Wednesday.

Nonetheless, 2018 investigations from the New York Times and Reuters suggested that the company feared for decades that some of its Baby Powder could be tainted by asbestos, a type of carcinogenic mineral that has been linked to cancers of lungs, larynx and ovaries, as well as mesothelioma, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Imerys Talc America Inc., which also supplied talc for J&J's powder, had been named as a defendant, but was dropped from the case after seeking bankruptcy protection to avoid being swamped with talc suits.

In response to the lawsuit, Johnson & Johnson released a statement about the verdict, saying the company plans to appeal.

Just a year ago, a jury decided that Johnson & Johnson had to pay more than $4 billion in damages to a group of women who claimed that asbestos in its products caused their ovarian cancers. Johnson & Johnson also won three cases, while five led to hung juries.

J&J said it was disappointed with the verdict and would appeal, citing "serious procedural and evidentiary errors" in the course of the trial.