Economy

Woman with cancer who sued J&J awarded $29M by California jury

Woman with cancer who sued J&J awarded $29M by California jury

The verdict Wednesday in favor of Teresa Leavitt and her spouse, Dean McElroy, came after a trial that started in January, CNN reported.

The woman, Terry Leavitt, told the jury that she used the baby powder and another, now discontinued product with talc, Shower to Shower, throughout the 60s and 70s, according to Reuters. Plaintiffs' attorneys have fundamentally failed to show that Johnson's Baby Powder contains asbestos, and their own experts concede that they are not recognizing the accepted definition of asbestos and are ignoring crucial distinctions between minerals that are asbestos and minerals that are not.

In 11 cases so far alleging asbestos contamination in talc, three have resulted in wins for plaintiffs, awarding damages as high as $4.69 billion in a July 2018 multi-plaintiff ovarian cancer verdict.

J&J denies allegations that its talc causes cancer, saying numerous studies and tests by regulators worldwide have shown that its talc is safe and asbestos-free. In 2017, she was diagnosed with mesothelioma - a kind of cancer linked to asbestos exposure. It was the first of more than a dozen talc cases against the company scheduled for trial in 2019. "The internal J&J documents that the jury saw, once more laid bare the shocking truth of decades of cover-up, deception and concealment by J&J".

Amid the scrutiny, Reuters late past year published a report alleging that J&J knew about asbestos in its talc for decades.

Imerys Talc America Inc., which also supplied talc for J&J's powder, had been named as a defendant, but was dropped from the case after seeking bankruptcy protection to avoid being swamped with talc suits.

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In December, documents came to light showing J&J anxious for decades that its baby powder might be laced with small amounts of asbestos, which can occur naturally underground near talc.

About 8 out of 10 people with mesothelioma have been exposed to asbestos. The jury found J&J responsible for 98% of the damages. Before that, in 2016, the company was ordered to pay $55 million to a woman who claimed she got cancer from its talcum powder.

One juror said after Wednesday's verdict that she probably won't buy any more J&J baby powder.

The investigations followed a Reuters report that claimed that J&J knew about the presence of asbestos traces in its products for the last 50 years and failed to disclose this to national regulators and customers.

A Mount Sinai researcher wrote in a company letter in 1971 that he had detected a "relatively small" amount of asbestos in the baby powder.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.