Trial began Wednesday in a case where twenty-two women have accused Johnson & Johnson of failing to protect consumers. The pharmaceutical and consumer goods company faces claims that it knew that its Baby Powder, Shower to Shower and other talc-based products contained asbestos and failed to warn consumers. Plaintiffs allege that the asbestos-contaminated talc caused their ovarian cancer.
Johnson & Johnson says that its talc products have not and do not contain asbestos and that their products do not cause cancer. But plaintiffs’ lawyer Mark Lanier told the jury in his opening that the company has worked to hide evidence of asbestos in their talc products.
This case is a combination of plaintiff strategies against the large corporation. Many cases have claimed that the talc products cause ovarian cancer. A smaller number have claimed that asbestos-tainted talc cause mesothelioma. This case merges the strategies, claiming that the allegedly present asbestos caused patients’ ovarian cancer.
Recently a South Carolina jury failed to reach a verdict in a case where a woman’s family claimed that her death from mesothelioma was due to her use of Johnson & Johnson’s talc products. However, other plaintiffs have succeeded in winning verdicts against the company, with one California woman receiving a $25.75 million verdict in her mesothelioma case against Johnson & Johnson.
The plaintiffs’ lawyer says that recently unsealed documents show that Johnson & Johnson knew since the 1970s that the talc products contained asbestos but directed its employees to reassure consumers that the products did not contain asbestos.
Imerys SA, the Paris-based mineral company that supplies Johnson & Johnson’s talc, was also originally named in this suit, but settled claims against it for over $5 million.
The outcome of this trial could bear on the more than 9,000 talcum powder lawsuits that Johnson & Johnson currently faces. The trial is expected to last six weeks.
The suit is Ingham v. Johnson & Johnson, No. 1522-CC10417, Circuit Court, City of St. Louis, Missouri.
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