A California man claimed Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder caused him to get cancer; the company settled his suit for about $19 million.
A jury awarded Emory Hernandez Valdez $18.8 million after he claimed that he developed mesothelioma, a lethal illness surrounding the tissue of his heart, due to his long-term exposure to Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based baby powder.
The jury decided that the company had to compensate Hernandez for his medical bills and his mental anguish.
Hernandez’s lawyers alleged that Johnson & Johnson engaged in a “despicable” cover-up of asbestos contamination in their product over several decades, while J&J’s lawyers denied any causal relationship between Hernandez’s illness and the company’s baby powder.
A single batch of Johnson & Johnson baby powder was recalled in 2019 after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found trace amounts of chrysotile asbestos in a sample purchased online. According to Erik Haas, vice president of litigation at Johnson & Johnson, the decision doesn’t comport with the independent scientific findings confirming that their Baby Powder does not contain asbestos, is safe, and cannot cause cancer.
The company has stated that it will appeal the ruling.
Johnson & Johnson has filed lawsuits against four doctors whose research papers found a link between talc-based personal care products and cancer.
The lawsuit was filed last week in federal court in New Jersey by LTL Management, a J&J subsidiary that assumed the company’s liability in a controversial 2021 merger.
LTL Management is seeking an order from the court compelling three researchers to “retract and issue a correction” to a study suggesting patients developed cancer (mesothelioma) after using talc-containing asbestos.
There have been over 38,000 claims filed against J&J alleging that the company’s talc products, most notably Baby Powder, contained asbestos and aided in the progression of various cancers such as ovarian and mesothelioma. J&J has filed an offer to settle those claims and any future talc litigation in bankruptcy court for $8.9 billion.
J&J claims that none of its talc products contain harmful levels of asbestos.