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A Los Angeles Superior Court jury returned a defense verdict on Thursday, following a trial over whether Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products caused a woman to develop mesothelioma.
Tina Herford filed the complaint against Johnson & Johnson and Imerys talc, alleging that she developed mesothelioma due to the side effects of talcum powder contained in products like Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower, which some say have asbestos-like qualities.
It is the first trial over claims that Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based products are linked to mesothelioma, and unrelated to more than 5,500 Baby Powder lawsuits and Shower-to-Shower lawsuits filed against Johnson & Johnson by women who allege that use of other talcum powder products caused the development of ovarian cancer.
In October 2014, a study published in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Healthidentified a potential link between an unnamed, but popular, brand of talcum powder and asbestos exposure, suggesting that use of the product may have caused the death of at least one unidentified woman due to mesothelioma.
Concerns about the link between mesothelioma and talcum powder stretch back decades, with local health officials in Baltimore requesting that the FDA investigate asbestos in talc powder as far back as 1972.
In April 2016, Colgate-Palmolive was ordered to pay $1.4 million to a woman diagnosed with mesothelioma after exposure to Cashmere Bouquet talc powder. Colgate-Palmolive reached an undisclosed settlement earlier this month over another talcum powder asbestos claim.
The defense verdict in the Johnson & Johnson case comes after a series of multi-million dollar damage awards returned in trials against Johnson & Johnson over failure to warn about the ovarian cancer risks with talcum powder, including verdicts of $70 million in November 2016, $55 million in May 2016 and $72 million in February 2016 over ovarian cancer claims. However, the latter ruling was also overturned last month on the basis of jurisdictional issues, following a recent Supreme Court ruling, and the others face similar challenges, which may require retrial in the federal court system.
While Johnson & Johnson is pursuing appeals in each of the cases and refusing to negotiate talcum powder settlements for women diagnosed with ovarian cancer, some analysts suggest that the recent verdicts may be a sign of future problems for the manufacturer, due to signs that juries find Johnson & Johnson’s trial defense lacking in credibility.