A Talcum Powder Attorney Can Help You Fight for the Compensation You Deserve
On March 13, a jury in Oakland, California, awarded Terry Leavitt and her husband $29.4 million after the couple sued Johnson & Johnson (J&J) over allegations that the company’s talc-based baby powder contains asbestos linked to cancer.
This marks the first talcum powder lawsuit to go to trial in 2019. The verdict is not the first of its kind, as J&J has lost other lawsuits based on similar claims that its talcum powder contains cancer-causing chemicals.
It’s important to stay updated on recent litigation against J&J in order to understand the dangers of the company’s talcum powder products and their potential effects on consumers, such as Leavitt. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer after years of talc powder use, it’s in your best interest to speak with a talcum powder attorney to determine if you’re entitled to compensation for your pain and suffering.
Talc Powder Was a Significant Factor in Leavitt’s Illness
In her lawsuit, Leavitt claimed that the pharmaceutical giant’s baby powder played a significant role in her development of mesothelioma, a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.
Leavitt used J&J talc products extensively throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Talcum powder products have long been promoted as a safe way to prevent diaper rash in infants and body odor in adults.
In 2016, Leavitt had a chest X-ray performed during which a malignant mass above her diaphragm was discovered. She was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2017 and received appropriate treatment, including surgery. However, the cancer is incurable and now severe. Her doctor testified that her length of survival could range from 12-28 months.
After hearing the facts of her case, the jury found that Leavitt’s fatal mesothelioma diagnosis was a result of years of asbestos-contaminated J&J talcum powder use. The verdict includes $22 million for pain and suffering, $5 million in compensatory damages, nearly $1.3 million for her medical bills, and $1.2 million for lost wages.
Internal Documents Prove Cancer Link Was Known
Asbestos is a known carcinogen that sometimes appears in natural talc. According to the American Cancer Society, asbestos was stripped from commercial talc products in the 1970s.
However, a December 2018 report by Reuters uncovered internal J&J documents that reveal company executives not only knew that traces of asbestos were present in their talc powder but, for years, did nothing to warn consumers or reformulate the products.
An excerpt from the report states that many of the internal documents prove that:
“from at least 1971 to the early 2000s, the company’s raw talc and finished powders sometimes tested positive for small amounts of asbestos, and that company executives, mine managers, scientists, doctors, and lawyers fretted over the problem and how to address it while failing to disclose it to regulators or the public.”
J&J is currently being investigated by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the U.S. Justice Department over the substantial allegations of asbestos in its talc products.
In addition to finding J&J’s asbestos-contaminated powder to be a substantial factor in Leavitt’s cancer diagnosis, the jury cited J&J for failing to appropriately warn consumers about the potential risks of its product.
Talcum Powder Lawsuits Continue to Rise
J&J has faced similar litigation regarding their talc products, including a 2018 verdict in which a Missouri jury ordered the company to pay $4.69 billion to 22 women who argued the product gave them ovarian cancer.
Leavitt’s lawsuit and those before it seem to be just the tip of the iceberg, as the number of talcum powder lawsuits continue to rise. J&J now faces an additional 13,000 pending lawsuits, all with plaintiffs alleging the asbestos-tainted powder is linked to cancer.
Despite the increasing number of related suits, J&J has continued to defend the safety of their talc products, claiming that the plaintiffs could have been exposed to asbestos through building materials used in their homes, offices, or nearby construction sites.
In regards to the most recent verdict, J&J said that it planned to appeal due to the “serious procedural and evidentiary” errors that should have resulted in a mistrial. “We respect the legal process and reiterate that jury verdicts are not medical, scientific or regulatory conclusions about a product,” the company stated.
Did You Become Ill After Using a Product? Here’s Why You Need a Lawyer
Product liability cases, such as Leavitt’s, are centered around plaintiffs who became injured or ill after using a dangerous or defective product.
However, these cases can be incredibly intimidating and complex because you will have to prove negligence on behalf of the manufacturer. In other words, it must be determined that the company knew or should have known the dangers of its products and failed to warn consumers of the potential risks.
Filing a lawsuit against large corporations, like Johnson & Johnson, is no easy task. These deep-pocketed companies usually have experienced legal teams to fight on their behalf. For this reason, it is vital to consult an aggressive and knowledgeable product liability lawyer who can guide you through the legal process and hold big companies liable for their irresponsible actions.
The Goldwater Law Firm is dedicated to helping individuals across the United States who have been harmed due to a defective product, drug, or medical device. If you have been diagnosed with cancer and believe it may be a result of talc powder, please call our law office today at 800-210-9700 for a free consultation. We’ll put you in touch with a talcum powder attorney who will fight for the justice you deserve.