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Johnson & Johnson Ordered to Pay $260 Million in Talc-Related Mesothelioma Case

Johnson & Johnson talcum powder

Reuters is reporting that in a recent verdict, a jury in Portland, Oregon, has ordered Johnson & Johnson (J&J) to pay $260 million to Kyung Lee, a woman who developed mesothelioma, a rare and deadly cancer linked to asbestos exposure.

Lee claimed that over more than 30 years—beginning when her mother used it on her as a baby and continuing into her adult life when she used it as a deodorant—she inhaled asbestos-contaminated talc powder, which she claimed was the cause of her illness.

The jury awarded Lee $60 million in compensatory damages and $200 million in punitive damages, including damages for her husband.

Despite the verdict, J&J maintains that its talc products are safe, do not contain asbestos, and do not cause cancer, citing decades of scientific studies supporting their safety. 

The company plans to appeal the decision and is confident that the verdict will be reversed.

Multiple Johnson & Johnson Lawsuits and Bankruptcy

This case is not an isolated incident for J&J. The company faces lawsuits from more than 61,000 plaintiffs over its talc products, with the majority being women with ovarian cancer and a small minority involving individuals with mesothelioma.

J&J is pursuing a proposed $6.48 billion settlement through a prepackaged bankruptcy to resolve these cases. However, the company needs the support of 75% of the remaining plaintiffs for the settlement to be approved.

In addition to the current case, J&J has faced other significant verdicts related to its talc products and cancer:

  • 1. In 2018, a jury in St. Louis awarded $4.69 billion to 22 women who claimed that J&J’s talc products caused their ovarian cancer.
  • 2. In 2019, a California jury awarded $29.4 million to a woman who claimed that J&J’s talc-based products caused her mesothelioma.
  • 3. In 2021, a Missouri appeals court reduced a $4.4 billion verdict against J&J in a talc-related ovarian cancer case to $2.1 billion.

The mixed record of verdicts in talc-related cases demonstrates the ongoing legal battle J&J faces. 

While the company has won some cases, such as an ovarian cancer case in April 2023, it has also been hit with substantial verdicts, including a $45 million verdict in a mesothelioma case in the same month.

As the legal proceedings continue, the outcome of J&J’s proposed bankruptcy settlement remains to be seen.  The company’s future liability in talc-related cancer cases will likely depend on the success of this settlement and the results of ongoing and future trials.

Our law firm represents cancer victims of talc products created by Johnson & Johnson and currently has dozens and dozens of cases in litigation.

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California Personal Injury Blog