Johnson & Johnson's talc cancer case verdict: $260M awarded to cancer victim.


Whether Johnson & Johnson's talcum powder contains asbestos has been tried in multiple courts, with varying results. In a recent trial, they were ordered to pay $260 million in damages.

Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay $260 million in damages to an Oregon woman who claimed she developed a fatal asbestos-related cancer, mesothelioma, after inhaling the company’s talcum powder. The jury delivered the verdict on Monday.

The ruling by the Fourth Judicial District Circuit Court in Portland comes as the company is advancing a $6.48 billion settlement proposal for most talcum powder-related lawsuits through a pre-packaged bankruptcy agreement. The jury awarded $60 million in compensatory damages and $200 million in punitive damages, covering both the plaintiff and her husband.

Erik Haas, Johnson & Johnson's Vice President of Global Litigation, stated that the verdict contradicts decades of independent scientific assessments confirming the safety of talcum powder, asserting it is asbestos-free and non-carcinogenic. He announced the company will appeal and is confident in overturning the ruling.

The plaintiff, Kyung Lee, was diagnosed with mesothelioma last year at the age of 48.

Lee claims she has been inhaling talcum powder containing asbestos for over 30 years, starting from when her mother used it on her as a baby, and later using it herself as a deodorant.

Johnson & Johnson maintains that their talcum powder products are asbestos-free and do not cause cancer, backed by decades of scientific research affirming their safety.

During the trial, Johnson & Johnson's lawyers argued that Lee's illness might be attributed to asbestos exposure from nearby factories during her upbringing.

Reuters observed the trial proceedings via the court's audiovisual network.

Johnson & Johnson faces over 61,000 talcum powder-related lawsuits, with most cases involving ovarian cancer and only a few concerning mesothelioma. The company has resolved the majority of mesothelioma cases.

Johnson & Johnson needs the support of 75% of the remaining plaintiffs to pass the bankruptcy settlement plan, aiming to end the litigation, prevent future cases, and stop people from opting out of the agreement.

Previously, the company's two attempts to resolve talcum powder cases through bankruptcy were dismissed by the court. Johnson & Johnson expressed confidence that plaintiffs' support would ensure the success of the latest attempt.

A group of plaintiffs opposing the settlement filed a class action lawsuit on May 22, seeking to block the agreement, denouncing it as a "fraudulent" misuse of the bankruptcy system.

Results of talcum powder trials have varied, with prominent victories for plaintiffs, including a $2.1 billion verdict in 2021 for 22 women with ovarian cancer. In April of this year, Johnson & Johnson won an ovarian cancer case but was ordered to pay $45 million in another mesothelioma case.



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