Recently, Johnson & Johnson lost a lawsuit that claimed 22 women died of certain types of ovarian cancer because of their long-term use of Johnson & Johnson products that were contaminated with asbestos. The initial verdict, handed down in July of 2018, awarded the 22 plaintiffs and their families a total of $4.69 billion. Although Johnson & Johnson appealed the verdict, it was upheld by Judge Rex Burlison.
Johnson & Johnson has yet to exhaust the entire appeals process, but Judge Burlison wrote in his order that there was “substantial evidence” of “reprehensible conduct.” He also went on to point out that management knew that asbestos was in products that were specifically designed to appeal to mothers for their own use or for use with their babies.
Did Johnson & Johnson Know about the Dangers of Their Products?
Based on various reports published by Reuters and the New York Times highlights that it is very likely that Johnson & Johnson knew and took steps as an attempt to keep that information quiet. Reuters wrote, in part: J&J assured the [FDA] regulator that no asbestos was “detected in any sample” of talc produced between December 1972 and October 1973. It didn’t tell the agency that at least three tests by three different labs from 1972 to 1975 had found asbestos in its talc – in one case at levels reported as “rather high.” …”
The New York Times alleged that there are internal documents and interviews with scientists that “proposed new testing procedures or replacing talc outright, while trying to discredit research suggesting that the powder could be contaminated with asbestos.”
India Also Has Concerns about Johnson & Johnson
The scrutiny against Johnson & Johnson isn’t limited to the United States. In an article written by Swati Gupta for CNN, it was reported that drug regulators in India collected test samples of the baby powder because of the allegations against the company.
What Are the Elements of a Talcum Powder Lawsuit?
Talcum powder lawsuits (and lawsuits filed because of other items available to the public for sale that cause harm) must meet certain elements. The elements that must be met for a successful talcum powder lawsuit include:
- Having proof that the talcum powder caused the actual injury. In the talcum powder lawsuits, it means having medical proof that the use of the powder directly resulted in the development of certain type of ovarian cancer.
- Having proof that the product is defective or dangerous. As you learned earlier in this post, there were internal memos that showed Johnson & Johnson likely knew and tried to hide evidence of asbestos in their products. Talc lawsuits often allege that Johnson & Johnson failed to properly test the safety of their product, failed to warn the public about the risks of using the product, and that they continued to state that their product was safe for use.
- Having proof that the defects in the product caused the actual injury. The plaintiff must show that using the defective product caused the development of a certain type of cancer. This is often done with medical proof as well as expert testimony.
- The ability to prove that they used the product as it was intended. With any sort of defective product or device lawsuit, the plaintiff must show that the product was used as it was intended to be used. Essentially, they must prove that they followed the labeling of the product and that following those directions is how they received their injury.
All lawsuits must be brought within the statute of limitations. Any sort of personal injury lawsuit, including talcum powder-based injury cases, have a time limit by which they must be filed. This depends on the state where the incident occurred.
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