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J & J must pay $117 million for asbestos in baby powder

A New Jersey man will receive $30 million after developing asbestos from inhaling Johnson & Johnson baby powder. His spouse is set to receive $7 million in compensation.

On April 6, a jury found the healthcare conglomerate 70 percent responsible for using talc contaminated with asbestos in its product. The jury found its talc supplier 30 percent responsible.

On April 11, the jury awarded another $80 million in punitive damages. 

The lawsuit alleged that J&J had dangerous levels of asbestos in its talcum product, and that when used as directed, there was a danger of inhaling carcinogenic asbestos fibers. The plaintiff in this case used baby powder from 1972 to 2003. When inhaled, asbestos fibers lodge in the lungs, eventually leading to mesothelioma.

Johnson & Johnson maintained there was never any asbestos in its product. During the lawsuit, however, Johnson & Johnson turned over a handwritten note from the 1970s with calculations regarding how much asbestos could be found in its talc.

Talc is often mined in places where it can be easily contaminated with asbestos. Most recently, makeup containing talc has come under scrutiny for testing positive for asbestos.

J&J facing thousands of lawsuits

The first trial over mesothelioma, J&J is currently also facing thousands of lawsuits alleging that its baby powder causes ovarian cancer. Juries have also awarded millions of dollars to plaintiffs at trial in several of those cases only to have it overturned on appeal.

Johnson & Johnson is expected to appeal. We will monitor this lawsuit as further developments arise.

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