Do you regularly use talc powder? A recent case might make you reconsider your daily routine. Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay nearly $5 billion to a group of women who claimed its Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products caused them to develop cancer.
The lawsuit stemmed from the claims of 22 women who alleged that they developed ovarian cancer due to their long-term use of talc products that were tainted with asbestos. The victims argued that Johnson & Johnson had been covering up evidence of this contamination for decades. The jury sided with the women, awarding a verdict of $550 million to compensate them for their actual losses and $4.14 billion to punish the company for its wrongful actions.
Was it coincidence or corporate wrongdoing?
A focal point of the lawsuit was Johnson & Johnson’s testing methods for their talc-based products. The women argued that the company failed to detect levels of asbestos, which is known to cause cancer. As their experts explained, talc and asbestos are commonly found in the same mines, so there is a chance the two substances could mix together during the removal process. Strict purification procedures are necessary to ensure that all asbestos is completely removed from talc products.
Johnson & Johnson argued that their product was verified by lab testing and independent agencies, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The cancer victims contended that flaws in the company’s methods led to their cancer. The jury agreed.
The billion-dollar tip of the iceberg?
There are presently around 9,000 similar cases involving claims against Johnson & Johnson’s talc products. This legal development is one you should keep a close eye on in the future.