$29M Penalty for Johnson & Johnson in Cancer Lawsuit

Johnson and Johnson lawsuit payout

A woman who claims asbestos in Johnson & Johnson products caused her deadly cancer was awarded $29.4 million by a California jury on Wednesday, Reuters reports.

The decision comes as the latest defeat for J&J, which is facing thousands of lawsuits over its iconic baby powder.

In December, the New York Times reported that for years, Johnson & Johnson executives anxious that their talc-based products would one day be linked to asbestos. In 2017, she was diagnosed with mesothelioma - a kind of cancer linked to asbestos exposure.

Analysts at UBS say the ruling could encourage more lawsuits against the company.

Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano on the fallout from a report that Johnson & Johnson's Baby Powder contained asbestos and the company was aware of it for decades.

Leavitt's was the first talc case to go to trial since Reuters on December 14 published a report detailing that J&J knew that the talc in its raw and finished powders sometimes tested positive for small amounts of asbestos from the 1970s into the early 2000s - test results it did not disclose to regulators or consumers. It also faced a $4.7 billion award against it last summer in a case representing 22 women and their families.

The panel found J&J responsible for 78 percent of Leavitt's award and its consumer products unit is on the hook for 20 percent.

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Johnson & Johnson also claims on its "Facts about Talc" website that every verdict that has gone through the appellate process has been overturned.

Still, a corporate website has its own agenda, and juries didn't believe Johnson & Johnson's science in multiple verdicts across the country.

Talc is a soft mineral that is often found with asbestos.

The company's shares traded lower after the news Wednesday evening and were slightly down Thursday morning. For the record, the company has shown that decades of testing indicated that the use of baby powder was safe and asbestos-free. Before that, in 2016, the company was ordered to pay $55 million to a woman who claimed she got cancer from its talcum powder. They said their baby powder "is safe and asbestos-free". Johnson & Johnson has repeatedly pointed to studies that have not shown such a link.

Ovarian cancer is the other cancer type at the heart of the J&J cases.

Mesothelioma is a awful form of cancer (as if any form of cancer isn't terrible) and Johnson & Johnson will have to do a much better job of convincing juries that their products don't cause cancer.

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