$29M Penalty for Johnson & Johnson in Cancer Lawsuit

Published March 14th, 2019 - 08:00 GMT

A California jury ordered pharma giant Johnson & Johnson Wednesday to pay $29 million over a claim the company's talc baby powder contained cancer-causing asbestos.

Teresa Leavitt accused Johnson & Johnson in an Oakland state court that it knew the carcinogen was in the product but failed to warn the public.

A jury agreed and ordered the company to pay Leavitt a $29 million award.


"Another jury has rejected the decades-long deception by Johnson & Johnson claiming that their baby powder was free of asbestos," her attorney Joseph Satterley said. "Hundreds of internal J&J documents showed the truth that it has been hiding for years. We are proud of the jury's hard work and confident that jurors in future cases will likewise follow the science and the law."

It was the seventh loss in a string of lawsuits filed against Johnson & Johnson in connection to talc claims. The company has appealed all of those verdicts and accused California Superior Court Judge Brad Seligman of making procedural and evidentiary errors in this trial.

"We are disappointed with today's verdict and will pursue an appeal because Johnson's Baby Powder does not contain asbestos or cause cancer," Johnson & Johnson spokeswoman Kim Montagnino said in a statement Wednesday. "We respect the legal process and reiterate that jury verdicts are not medical, scientific or regulatory conclusions about a product."

Johnson & Johnson is fighting more than 13,000 lawsuits in which plaintiffs say the company's products caused either mesothelioma or ovarian cancer. There are trials underway in New Jersey and Oklahoma and two others could also begin this month.

The Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission issued subpoenas last month to Johnson & Johnson in connection with the baby powder claims. The company said then it would comply and produce documents over the asbestos claims.


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