Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder Lawsuit Ends in $260M Jury Award For Woman’s Mesothelioma Diagnosis

Verdict comes as Johnson & Johnson continues to push a $6.5 billion Baby Powder settlement proposal, which seeks to force the resolution of similar ovarian cancer lawsuits through the U.S. Bankruptcy system

A jury in Portland, Oregon has ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $260 million to a woman who filed a Baby Powder lawsuit claiming years of using the asbestos-contaminated talcum powder caused her to develop mesothelioma, a rare and deadly form of cancer that is only known to occur after exposure to to asbestos fibers.

The complaint was brought in Oregon state court by Kyung Lee, who was diagnosed with mesothelioma last year, alleging that consumers should have been warned about the presence of asbestos in Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder.

Lee’s lawsuit was one of more than 60,000 Baby Powder lawsuits and Shower-to-Shower lawsuits filed against Johnson & Johnson, each involving similar allegations that users developed various types of cancer. While most of the litigation involves women diagnosed with ovarian cancer, a number of claims involve individuals diagnosed with mesothelioma.

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Talcum powder or talc powder may cause women to develop ovarian cancer.

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Following the presentation of evidence at trial, the Portland jury hearing the case issued a verdict ordering Johnson & Johnson to pay Lee $60 million in compensatory damages, and an additional $200 million in punitive damages; which are intended to punish the manufacturer for reckless disregard of consumer safety.

The verdict comes just more than a month after a Florida court issued a similar verdict, awarding the family of Theresa Garcia $45 million as the result of a wrongful death lawsuit filed after she died of mesothelioma following years of Baby Powder use as well.

The losses come as Johnson & Johnson continues to push a controversial talcum powder bankruptcy scheme, where it transferred all liability it faces for failing to warn about the cancer risks to a new subsidiary, which then declared bankruptcy in 2021. Although courts have twice rejected the bankruptcy filing, since the parent company Johnson & Johnson faces no real financial distress and has sufficient assets to cover the liability for failing to warn about the talcum powder cancer risks, the company has recently made a third attempt to force settlement of Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder lawsuits through the U.S. Bankruptcy system.

In May 2024, Johnson & Johnson proposed a $6.5 billion settlement to resolve all current and future Baby Powder lawsuits involving women diagnosed with ovarian cancer, which makes up the bulk of litigation the company currently faces. However, plaintiffs’ lawyers have roundly rejected the effort, indicating that the amount of the settlement is insufficient to compensate women who relied on the safety of Johnson & Johnson talcum powder products.

While a handful of state court cases like the one filed by Kyung Lee and the family of Theresa Garcia have been able to go to trial in recent years, often resulting massive individual verdicts, the bulk of the litigation is currently consolidated in the federal court system, where complaints filed by women nationwide have been centralized as part of a talcum powder MDL (multidistrict litigation) since 2016.

Unless Johnson & Johnson is able to force the claims into the U.S. bankruptcy court system, it is expected that the federal judge presiding over the litigation will soon schedule a series of hearings to evaluate the sufficiency of plaintiffs’ expert witness testimony linking talcum powder and ovarian cancer, then schedule a series of cases for bellwether trials.


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