Lawsuits alleging that certain talcum powder products have contained harmful asbestos are growing in number. Complaints have been filed in California, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Florida against companies such as Johnson & Johnson, Colgate Palmolive, Shulton Co., and their respective talc suppliers.
While the companies vehemently claim that their talcum powder products do not contain asbestos, millions of dollars have already been awarded to some of the plaintiffs in these lawsuits.
Johnson & Johnson recently lost in a legal battle against a plaintiff who developed mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos-contaminated talc within J&J’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products.
Not only were they required to pay $37 million in compensatory damages to the plaintiff, but they were also fined $80 million in punitive damages.
Imerys SA–J&J’s talcum supplier– is also being held accountable, and will be responsible for paying $25 million of the punitive damages and $11.1 million of the compensatory damages.
This ruling is significant because it is the first asbestos-contaminated talcum powder lawsuit to result in punitive damages.
Despite the jury’s recent ruling in the plaintiff’s favor, both J&J and Imerys plan to appeal the decision.
Imerys claims that the plaintiff’s asbestos exposure came from sources other than talcum powder while J&J continues to deny that its talcum powder products have ever contained asbestos.
However, internal documents seem to indicate that J&J knew of the asbestos that some of its talcum powder products contained. Furthermore, one of the talc mines used by the company in Vermont has been known to contain asbestos for almost half a century.
In light of this recent plaintiff’s victory against a major company in its home state, it will be interesting to see how similar lawsuits in other states continue to develop.
We will monitor the legal news for updates on this asbestos-contaminated talcum powder lawsuit and others, and continue to report on significant developments.
Written by: Heather Helmendach, Legal Assistant
Law Offices of Thomas J. Lamb, P. A.