Jury Awards $29.4 Million in Talcum-Cancer Trial

A container of Johnson's baby powder made by Johnson and Johnson

Plaintiff Teresa Leavitt is a mother of two who said J&J's talc products were used on her as a child, and she used it herself into adulthood, Bloomberg reports.

Johnson & Johnson's baby-powder problems continued as a California jury decided the company must pay $29 million to a woman who claimed the company's talcum powder-based products gave her cancer. Now, she has developed mesothelioma, and her doctors told the jury she's not expected to live past next year.

'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.

Wednesday's ruling also comes about a year after 22 women were awarded $4.7 billion from the company after they claimed the company's products caused them to develop ovarian cancer.

The nine-week trial that began on January 7 involved a jury that deliberated for two days before delivering the verdict in California Superior Court in Oakland, the report said. A company executive in the 1970s warned that J&J's talc mines might not be free of asbestos.

The woman had alleged that traces of asbestos in J&J's products such as Johnson's baby powder led to her contracting mesothelioma, a form of cancer that affects the lungs and heart. "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".

Leavitt's trial originally included Johnson & Johnson talc supplier, Imerys Talc America, a unit of Imerys SE, as a co-defendant.

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Talc and asbestos are often mined together from metamorphic rocks, particularly in North Carolina, Alabama, Vermont and northern Italy.

About 8 out of 10 people with mesothelioma have been exposed to asbestos.

Almost 14,000 cases involving people who believe that J&J's talc powder caused their cancer are making their way through the USA legal system.

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.

"I don't think they made a good case" that J&J's Baby Powder "contained a significant enough amount of asbestos contamination to cause the illness", she said.

Another juror, Anu Agarwal, a product manager in Castro Valley, said J&J was irresponsible for failing to adequately follow up on studies that showed the presence of asbestos in Baby Powder.

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