Johnson & Johnson took another hit yesterday, causing the company’s shares to fall over 2% in premarket trading after being ordered to pay a woman $29 million by a California jury. The settlement comes after a lawsuit which claims the woman developed cancer due to the asbestos found in the company’s talcum powder.
Teresa Leavitt was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a fatal form of cancer. She claims to have used the company’s baby powder products which have been linked to asbestos. She claims that the baby powder has been a major factor in her cancer’s development. Jurors agreed with Leavitt claiming that the company should have warned consumers about the potential risks associated with their products.
The panel found the company to be 78% responsible for Leavitt’s award. Johnson & Johnson’s consumer products unit will be responsible for 20% of the award, while the company’s former talc supplier, Cypress Mines, will be responsible for 2% of the award.
Leavitt’s mesothelioma is already in an advanced state. Her doctors claim that she will not live beyond 2020. Leavitt used baby powder as a child and continued using the product into adulthood. Lawyers for Leavitt noted the release of J&J documents that show that the company knew there were trace amounts of asbestos in the company’s talc products.
Johnson & Johnson is facing thousands of similar lawsuits. The New Jersey company will appeal the verdict and insists that numerous studies have found that talc is asbestos-free and safe.
The company released a statement following the trial, claiming that the company respects the legal process but that the jury’s verdict is not medical or scientific.
Johnson & Johnson faces 13,000 talc-related lawsuits. The company has already been ordered to pay $4 billion to 22 women that have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer after using the company’s products. Los Angeles jurors awarded another woman $21.7 million last year.