A new lawsuit accuses Johnson & Johnson of concealing the link between talcum powders and asbestos, a deadly mineral known to cause mesothelioma.
- Talc linked to ovarian cancer and mesothelioma
- 5,000 baby powder lawsuits filed
- Over $700 million in compensation awarded
Unsealed court documents suggest that J&J may have found traces of asbestos in the company’s talc supply. Legal experts believe these new revelations could spark another wave of litigation, this time highlighting mesothelioma patients.
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If you’re reading this page, you probably saw a television commercial informing mesothelioma patients of an emerging litigation involving Johnson & Johnson’s popular line of talc-based body powders. Here’s what it’s all about.
Lawsuit: Some Talc Products May Contain Asbestos
Most of these ads reference two products in particular, Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder and the company’s Shower to Shower line. As most commercials note, a new legal complaint, filed on behalf of 50 women, says that some of these products may have contained traces of asbestos fiber, despite Johnson & Johnson’s claims to the contrary. The ads end by urging mesothelioma patients, along with families who have already lost loved ones to the disease, to contact an experienced product liability attorney immediately.
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Cancer Patients Secure Millions In Compensation
These commercials, produced by various law firms, usually note that thousands of product liability lawsuits have already been filed against Johnson & Johnson, pointing to a potential link between the company’s talcum powders and ovarian cancer. That’s true. Nearly 5,000 of these baby powder lawsuits are currently pending in state and federal courts.
In a Missouri state court, five trials have already been held, with ovarian cancer patients prevailing in four of them. A sixth trial concluded recently in Los Angeles. In the first talcum powder case to reach a jury verdict in California, the 62-year-old plaintiff, who was too sick to attend the trial, was awarded an astounding $417 million. To date, Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay over $700 million in compensation to patients and families.
Court Records Suggest Talc – Asbestos Link
Beyond these astonishing verdicts, the talcum powder litigation has also led to some troubling revelations. A slew of internal corporate memos, unsealed during court proceedings, suggest that several of the company’s leading talc suppliers discovered in the 1970s that their mines were producing talc contaminated by asbestos fibers.
The recent lawsuit referred to in attorney commercials was filed in a St. Louis state court on behalf of 50 women who have all been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Their complaint says that some of Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powders could contain trace amounts of asbestos, the only confirmed cause of the aggressive cancer known as mesothelioma.
As the women note, even a minuscule amount of asbestos could increase the risk for developing cancer, including both ovarian cancer and mesothelioma. While this new lawsuit refers only to ovarian cancer, many legal experts believe that some mesothelioma patients may also be able to file talc powder lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson.
The History Of Asbestos Contamination
Asbestos and talc are both naturally-occurring minerals, often found in close proximity to one another in the ground. This fact led to major controversy during the early 1970s, when medical researchers confirmed that exposure to asbestos causes a rare and often fatal form of cancer, mesothelioma.
While many corporations initially tried to conceal the link, most of the business community eventually relented, agreeing to remove asbestos from their manufacturing processes. Talcum powder manufacturers were under particular pressure, since talc is applied directly to the body and continues to play a prominent role in child care.
It’s no surprise, then, that Johnson & Johnson, the nation’s largest talc powder supplier, was quick to reassure the public. Rigorous testing of the company’s talc supply, Johnson & Johnson has long held, have never revealed any trace of asbestos. A training memo intended for company employees, unsealed in recent court proceedings, advised Johnson & Johnson representatives to tell medical professionals that asbestos “has never been found” in its talc products “and it never will.” While the document is not dated, the Chicago Tribune reports, other unsealed company records appear to contradict Johnson & Johnson’s public message.
Vermont Mine Found Traces Of Asbestos, Plaintiffs Say
At the company’s mine in Windsor, Vermont, a high-level Johnson & Johnson employee advised his employees to use citric acid to “depress” the level of chrysotile asbestos found in the mine’s talc. The man, who served as the mine’s director of research and development, wrote in 1974: “the use of these systems is strongly urged by this writer to provide protection against what are currently considered to be materials presenting a severe health hazard and are potentially present in all talc ores in use at this time.”
Let’s repeat that. Asbestos, the director clearly states, was “potentially present in all talc ores in use,” including the Vermont mine. This acknowledgment of talc-contamination came in 1974, but one year earlier, another company memo seems to admit that Johnson & Johnson baby powder “contains talc fragments classifiable as fiber.” Two forms of asbestos, the memo continues, “are identifiable and these might be classified as asbestos fiber.”
Odd then that Johnson & Johnson’s internal records show safety tests, going back to 1972, had never found any evidence of asbestos in the company’s talc. In their new lawsuit, plaintiffs come to what they believe is an unavoidable conclusion: Johnson & Johnson was reassuring the public that its talc powders were free of asbestos, but knew the opposite to be true. The company, plaintiffs allege, has engaged in a pattern of fraud, ignoring or concealing safety risks that would damage a cherished brand.
J&J Opposes Mine’s Acknowledgement Of Asbestos
Another clue to this alleged pattern of deception comes from a series of unsealed documents related to the Val Chisone mine, a talc mine in Italy, according to Manufacturing.Net. In 1974, Johnson & Johnson officials managed to persuade the mine’s owners to stop distributing a marketing booklet that said trace amounts of asbestos had been found in the quarry’s talc supply.
Johnson & Johnson purchased talc from Val Chisone, and saw the mine’s acknowledgment of asbestos as a “serious business threat,” according to one memo. The mine’s pamphlet, a company researcher wrote, “can raise doubts on the validity of the documentation of purity and safety of talc.” Johnson & Johnson convinced the mine to pull an English language version of the booklet from circulation, allowing company officials to rewrite it.
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Mesothelioma develops very slowly. In many cases, the disease will only surface between 10 to 50 years after the patient’s actual exposure to asbestos. If talcum powder products sold in the 1970s contained asbestos fibers, men and women could still be receiving related mesothelioma diagnoses today. Some of these patients may be eligible to secure compensation.
Were you or a loved one diagnosed with mesothelioma after years of talc exposure? Contact our experienced attorneys now. We may be able to help. Call us today to receive a free consultation and begin learning about your legal options and rights.