A jury in California has ordered Johnson & Johnson and other companies to pay $25.75 million in a talc-asbestos case. The jury ruled that J&J was negligent and failed to warn consumers of the potential health risks associated with its Baby Powder product.
The plaintiffs, Joanne and Gary Anderson, claim that Joanne developed cancer after using J&J’s Baby Powder. She claims to have used the powder on her hands and feet as well as on her children for diaper rash. Experts estimate that she used the powder more than 10,000 times.
Joanne was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma, a cancer that is typically linked to asbestos exposure.
The jury awarded the couple $21.75 in compensatory damages. After deliberation, they came back with an additional $4 million in punitive damages.
According to the jury, J&J was responsible for two-thirds compensatory damages and 100% of the punitive award. The remainder of the compensatory damages will be paid by other companies named in the lawsuit, including Borg Warner, Honeywell/Bendix and Fel-Pro.
The jury asked the judge if they could force J&J to add a warning label to products that may be contaminated with asbestos. But such a remedy cannot be ordered in a damages action.
J&J maintains that its products are free of asbestos and plans to appeal the verdict.
The company is still battling some 9,000 lawsuits claiming that its talc products causes ovarian cancer. In April, a jury in New Jersey hit J&J and Imerys Talc America with a $117 million verdict. The plaintiff alleged that he developed mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure from J&J’s Baby Powder.
An appeal in that case is also pending.
In November of last year, a jury cleared J&J of any liability in another mesothelioma-related case.
A decision is expected to come soon in a separate case in South Carolina.