The link between asbestos in talcum powder (talc) and mesothelioma has taken center-stage recently with several large jury verdicts leveled against the leading manufacturer Johnson & Johnson Consumer, Inc. (Johnson & Johnson). The company has been sued in thousands of claims alleging that its baby powder causes ovarian cancer. But cases involving mesothelioma are based on the presence of asbestos in Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower talc products, which is breathed in by those using or exposed to the products. It is important that consumers understand that the corn-starch version of Johnson’s Baby Powder is 100% asbestos-free, whereas the talc-based classic Johnson’s baby powder formulation has been found to contain asbestos.
The Connection Between Talc and Asbestos
Talc is a naturally occurring mineral known for its moisture absorbing properties. Talc is found in close proximity to asbestos when growing in its natural state. Exposure to asbestos is the only well-established cause of mesothelioma in the United States. Consumer companies must refine talc before use, but studies reveal that many products, including baby powder, still contain small percentages by weight of asbestos. Cornstarch, however, can be safely used as an alternative to talc. Cornstarch is made of large particles located in the corn kernel and is completely free of asbestos. Many consumer product companies have acknowledged the benefits of using cornstarch and have increasingly used cornstarch in place of talc. Johnson & Johnson, however, continues to market two versions of baby powder: one with corn-starch and the classic, more-recognizable version with talc. Clearly, talc should not be used in any baby powder or body powder because of the findings of asbestos in talc, and because a 100% asbestos-free alternative exists in the form of corn starch. Studies also demonstrate an increased risk of ovarian cancer in women who use talcum powder regularly below the waist.
Historic Verdict Links Mesothelioma to Talc in Baby Powder Products
In a major victory for mesothelioma patients in April, 2018, a court in New Jersey concluded that the talc found in Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder was contaminated with asbestos in the mining process. Plaintiff Stephen Lanzo, represented by two MesoLawyersCare law firms, maintained that he developed mesothelioma as a result of using baby powder for decades. Internal Johnson & Johnson documents revealed that the company was aware that the talc in its baby powder contained asbestos yet failed to provide warnings on its packaging alerting consumers about the dangers. This knowledge dates back prior to the 1970’s according to company documents. The jurors awarded $30 million to Lanzo and $7 million to his wife and an additional $80 million in punitive damages to be paid by Johnson & Johnson and Imerys Talc America, Inc, a talc supplier.
Mesothelioma Litigation Against Talc-Based Product Manufacturers
Unlike asbestos lawsuits that often arise from occupationally-related asbestos exposures, the plaintiff in the Lanzo case was exposed to asbestos that contained in talcum powder. Evidence that asbestos was present in talc came from historical documents and testing, as well as modern-day testing of vintage products. Asbestos was found in the majority of Johnson’s baby powder products tested by the expert for the plaintiffs in the Lanzo case. Johnson & Johnson vigorously objected to the admission of this testing in the Lanzo case, but the trial court overruled its objections. Johnson & Johnson still claims, despite all this testing, that its talcum powder products never contained any asbestos. Johnson & Johnson also claims that any asbestos minerals in its talc-based powder do not meet certain geological definitions for “asbestos fibers”. However, the jury in Lanzo rejected these arguments and concluded that Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder was a defective product because it contained asbestos, that the product was unreasonably dangerous and that cornstarch is a safer feasible alternative.
The outcome of the case is significant because it is the first time Johnson & Johnson has been held liable in a mesothelioma case in connection with the presence of asbestos in its baby powder. Despite the company’s continued claims that their baby powder poses no health hazards, the verdict is further evidence why consumers should use corn starch instead of talc.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact MesoLawyersCare to learn how we can help you obtain the compensation you deserve. We have recovered some of the largest and most notable verdicts in mesothelioma cases in the country. Call us at 1-888-568-1177 or complete the form on this page to speak to our attorneys about your case.