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Last week, a US jury awarded 22 women and their families almost $4.7 billion in total damages after a 6-week trial in St. Louis Circuit Court. The women had claimed that asbestos in Johnson and Johnson talcum powder had contributed to their ovarian cancer. Sadly, 6 of the 22 women have died from the cancer.

Is Talcum Powder Dangerous?

Talcum powder is made from talc, which is made up of the elements oxygen, magnesium and silicon. Before being processed, talc naturally contains asbestos, which is widely known for causing cancers in and around the lungs when it’s inhaled.

Talcum powder is used in beauty cosmetics as it absorbs moisture well, keeping the skin dry. However, since the 1970s, all talc products in the US used at home have been asbestos- free.

The concern over the link between talcum powder and cancer focusses on whether people who come into close contact with the fibres over a long period of time are at a greater risk of being diagnosed with lung cancer. There is also concern over whether women who use talcum powder regularly in the genital area are at greater risk of contracting ovarian cancer.

About the Case

 

During the trial against Johnson and Johnson, medical experts testified that asbestos is intermixed with talc, which is the primary component in the manufacturing company’s talcum powder products.
According to The St. Louis Post - Dispatch, the jurors were told during closing arguments that this was the first time that any jurors had seen documents showing that Johnson and Johnson were aware that their products contained asbestos and failed to warn their customers.

Johnson and Johnson have been accused of covering up evidence of asbestos in their products for over 40 years in a statement given by the lead counsel for the plaintiffs, Mark Lanier. According to the lawyers of the plaintiffs, asbestos fibres and talc particles were found in the ovarian tissues of many of the 22 women.

Carol Godrich, from Johnson’s Global Media Relations team, said that the verdict showed the evidence in the case was overwhelmed with prejudice, as the women were awarded the same amount of money despite differences in their circumstances.

Johnson and Johnson have also come out and said that the verdict was the result of an unfair process as it allowed the women to sue the company in Missouri, even though most of them are not living in the state. They plan to appeal.

However, this isn’t the first time Johnson and Johnson have been hit with a verdict for compensatory damages. Stephen Lanzo was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2016 and said he exposed to asbestos by inhaling the manufacturers baby powder. He won his case and he was awarded $30 million and his wife $7 million.

The company now faces 9,000 cases over their talcum powder products.

It should be noted that the damages awarded in claims brought in the U.S. include punitive awards that are not awarded to claimant’s in cases brought in England and Wales. It remains to be seen as to whether civil claims for similar causes of action will be brought under the legal system in England and Wales.

Could You Make a Personal Injury Claim?

If you have been injured in a scenario similar to this, then you should contact our personal injury solicitors today.

Based in Cardiff, our specialist personal injury and medical negligence solicitors are experts at what they do. Renowned for their high claim success rates and with a reputation for achieving the optimum amount of compensation, Howells should be your first choice for product liability claims in the South Wales area.

(main image source: Mike Mozart under CC BY 2.0)

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