Johnson & Johnson Cleared in NJ in Talc Cancer Trial

Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has been cleared by a New Jersey jury in a lawsuit that claimed the company’s talc-based products contained asbestos and caused cancer.

A jury at the Middlesex County Superior Court found that plaintiff Ricardo Rimondi had not proved he was exposed to asbestos through the company’s baby powder product.

The plaintiff’s lawyer argued that years of exposure to J&J Baby Powder caused Rimondi’s mesothelioma.

Rimondi is one of 13,000 plaintiffs who have sued J&J and claimed their talc-based products caused cancer. J&J maintains that their products were never contaminated with asbestos.

Verdicts in J&J lawsuits have been mixed. In St. Louis, a jury ruled in favor of a group of 22 women with ovarian cancer who claimed that J&J’s Baby Powder product caused their cancer. The women were awarded $4.69 billion. J&J is currently appealing that decision.

In March of this year, J&J was ordered to pay $29 million to a woman who claimed that J&J’s talc products were contaminated with asbestos and caused her mesothelioma.

Last year, the New York Times released a damaging report on J&J, claiming that the company attempted to obscure information linking asbestos to its products. Reuters also published a report stating that the company knew in the 1970s that the talc in its raw and finished powders had tested positive for small amounts of asbestos. These test results, Reuters claimed, were not disclosed to consumers or regulators.

A spokesman for J&J said three of the past nine cases involving mesothelioma had been ruled in J&J’s favor. Five of those cases ended in mistrials.

The company has also settled three other mesothelioma talc cases pending in Oklahoma, California and New York.

The majority of the cases against J&J involve ovarian cancer claims. Some of those verdicts have been overturned on appeal on technical grounds.