by: Ethan Huff, July 12th, 2019
In a landmark decision, a New York state jury has decided that Johnson & Johnson (J&J) must compensate a woman who claims she was harmed by the company’s talc baby powder products, which we earlier reported have been identified as being contaminated with cancer-causing asbestos.
J&J has reportedly been ordered to pay out $300 million in punitive damages to the woman, who developed a rare asbestos-related cancer that she insists was caused by J&J baby powder. The ruling follows another similar one from earlier in the month, also decided by a New York state jury, that awarded $25 million in damages to Donna Olson, a 66-year-old woman who also developed cancer.
Meanwhile, another case that was heard in South Carolina the very same day as Olson’s was reportedly dismissed, as that jury cleared the company of all liability.
“With this verdict, yet another jury has rejected J&J’s misleading claims that its talc was free of asbestos,” stated Jerome Block, the lead trial attorney in the latest New York case.
“The internal J&J documents that the jury saw, once more laid bare the shocking truth of decades of cover-up, deception and concealment by J&J of the asbestos found in talc baby powder,” he added about the merits of the case.
These three cases are just a drop in the bucket, as J&J is reportedly facing some 13,000 more, all of which allege that the company’s talc products contain cancer-causing asbestos. J&J, however, continues to deny these allegations, insisting that multiple studies and tests conducted by regulators from all around the world confirm that J&J’s talc products are safe and asbestos-free.
“This trial suffered significant legal and evidentiary errors which Johnson & Johnson believes will warrant a reversal on appeal,” J&J told CNBC. “Decades of tests by independent experts and academic institutions repeatedly confirm that Johnson’s Baby Powder does not contain asbestos or cause cancer.”
“Of all the verdicts against Johnson & Johnson that have been through the appellate process, every one has been overturned,” the company went on to say.
It’s unfortunate that it took thousands of lawsuits and countless customers getting cancer for J&J to finally reformulate its baby products to contain fewer toxins
As part of a massive damage control effort, J&J last spring relaunched its entire baby-care products line, which has been hit hard by relentless negative press.
Since 2011, sales of the brand, which is now 125 years old, have declined by a whopping 20 percent – which amounted to $1.9 billion just last year. In the first quarter of 2018, sales in the United States dropped by 14 percent.
Part of this rebrand reportedly involves J&J removing certain toxic ingredients from its products that, like asbestos, could potentially cause cancer. Reports indicate that the new varieties are being marketed towards “millennial moms” who prefer baby products that contain “more natural ingredients.”
“I try to avoid products that have sulfates, parabens, phthalates and artificial fragrances,” says Meg Conrad, the mother of a three-year-old daughter who told CNBC that she always checks product labels to make sure that her baby products are free of these additives – which is why she doesn’t purchase J&J baby products, at least in their current form.
“Everything you put on your skin gets absorbed into your bloodstream, so I want to protect my daughter from any harmful chemicals and toxins that could potentially be in products.”
In 2015, J&J removed all parabens and phthalates from its baby products line. However, critics said the company still had a long way to go, which is why it has now announced that it plans to remove synthetic dyes and sulfates from its products, as well as replace ingredients like mineral oil with coconut oil.
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