There have been concerns surrounding the possible presence of asbestos in Johnson & Johnson’s talc—found in their popular baby powder—since the 1970s. A 2018 article from Reuters claims that J&J knew about the risk of carcinogens and hid the danger from consumers for decades. With more than 16,000 lawsuits on file claiming that the baby powder caused mesothelioma or ovarian cancer, this is a landmark case.
The latest litigation
In California, plaintiffs Linda and Mark O’Hagan allege that J&J’s baby powder caused Linda’s mesothelioma. They cited the October 2019 recall of the product as evidence of guilt. According to the FDA, the recalled bottles tested positive for the carcinogen chrysotile asbestos.
Johnson & Johnson reportedly had several outside labs test the recalled shipments and found no asbestos. Still, back in the 1970s, the company publicly exerted efforts to remove asbestos from its products. The Hagan’s lawyer argued this indicates that they have known about the presence of the carcinogen all along.
The company’s counsel argued that the plaintiff had stopped using the product long before the recall and, therefore, couldn’t have suffered ill effects from the recalled shipment. Yet an expert witness testified that asbestos was present in the mines from which the talc powder came from 1992 and 2003, which is within the period the plaintiff used the product. Additional testing, even before this time, revealed the presence of carcinogens.
Trial results are mixed, but there have been positive outcomes for plaintiffs in numerous cases. If you have suffered from the use of this product, there may be a chance to recover damages. With the sheer number of lawsuits against them, Johnson & Johnson will be defending their position for many years to come.