A woman who alleged that Johnson & Johnson products containing talcum powder were linked to her mesothelioma was awarded millions by a jury in the US, Reuters reported Wednesday. The verdict follows a nine-week trial that began shortly after the start of the year.
The jury, in a Superior Court in Oakland, found that the company’s products were defective and that Johnson & Johnson knew this, but did not warn its consumers. Johnson & Johnson told Gizmodo in a statement that it plans to appeal the ruling, claiming that its baby powder “does not contain asbestos or cause cancer.”
“We respect the legal process and reiterate that jury verdicts are not medical, scientific or regulatory conclusions about a product,” the company said by email. “Decades of tests by independent, non-litigation driven experts and institutions repeatedly confirm that Johnson’s Baby Powder does not contain asbestos or cause cancer. We believe these issues will warrant a reversal on appeal.”
Terry Leavitt and her husband were awarded a combined $29.4 million (£22 million) in damages. Leavitt’s lawyer said she used Johnson & Johnson talc products—including its baby powder—for decades, the New York Times reported. Leavitt was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a rare type of cancer linked to asbestos exposure, in 2017.
The millions awarded to the couple is compensatory damages only, CNN noted. The jury decided against awarding Leavitt punitive damages.
The verdict follows a pair of damning reports from the New York Times and Reuters based on internal Johnson & Johnson documents that found the company knew for decades that its talc products could contain trace amounts of carcinogenic asbestos.
Moshe Maimon, a lawyer for Leavitt, said in a statement that internal Johnson & Johnson documents presented to the jury “once more laid bare the shocking truth of decades of cover-up, deception and concealment” by the company.
Johnson & Johnson in December failed to have a £3.69 billion verdict in a similar case brought by nearly two dozen women thrown out. The company is currently facing more than 13,000 suits across the U.S. by people who claim their cancers are linked to Johnson & Johnson’s talc products. [Reuters]
Featured photo: Matt Rourke (AP)