There are currently over 15,000 lawsuits pending against consumer giant Johnson & Johnson, accusing the company of knowingly exposing them to asbestos contamination in their talc-based products and causing their malignant mesothelioma and ovarian cancer. Though the plaintiffs in these cases all point to laboratory test results and internal company memos supporting their case, the company has pushed back, arguing that asbestos has never been in their product. That position has won over several who have already decided on these cases, while other juries have ruled against the company, awarding millions of dollars in compensation to victims. But the company’s position was significantly weakened when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently reported that it had identified the carcinogenic mineral in a bottle of Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder purchased just last year. With that news representing a legal bombshell in the cases yet to be heard, the company first responded by recalling 33,000 bottles of their product, but they are now pushing back with results of a lab report contradicting the FDA’s results.
The new position being taken by Johnson & Johnson is clearly designed to counter the negative impact that the FDA report has had on the mesothelioma and ovarian cancer cases that are making their way through the courts. Where the company’s CEO had previously testified that he had no knowledge of asbestos existing in their product, the report from the FDA makes it impossible for the company to maintain that position without casting aspersions on the federal agency’s findings. It is unclear how effective their presentation of tests from third-party laboratories that they hired will be in the eyes of juries slated to hear the cases, especially when those same juries will see internal company documents from decades ago, expressing concerns about asbestos being in the product.
Johnson & Johnson’s argument against the possibility of their product causing mesothelioma will now include their representation that the private labs that they hired conducted 15 negative tests on the product that the FDA said tested positive for asbestos, as well as 48 tests conducted on other samples. They purport that their own lab’s results came back positive based on asbestos emanating from a portable air conditioner in the laboratory.
If you have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease like mesothelioma or asbestosis and you’ve never worked with the material, your exposure may have come from the use of a talc-based product. For more information on the options available to you, contact us today at 1-800-966-2244.