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J&J must pay $260 million in latest talc lawsuit trial, Oregon jury says

In a Talc Lawsuit trial, Johnson & Johnson must pay $260 million to an Oregon woman who claimed she was diagnosed with mesothelioma, which is a fatal cancer that can be linked to asbestos exposure, after inhaling the talc powder of the company, the jury found on Monday.


The verdict from the 4th Judicial District Circuit Court in Portland comes as the business continues to pursue a $6.48 billion deal to settle the majority of lawsuits involving talc via prepackaged bankruptcy. The verdict includes $60 million in compensation as well as $200 million for punitive damages as well as damages for spouses of the defendant and plaintiff.

Erik Haas, J&J’s worldwide vice president of litigation, declared in a statement the decision “is not compatible with the years of independent scientific studies that have proven that talc is safe, is not contaminated with asbestos, and is not a cause of cancer.” He added that the company was planning to appeal and was sure it could get the decision overturned.

In the lawsuit, Kyung Lee was diagnosed with mesothelioma last year at the age of 48.

Lee claimed that she breathed in asbestos-contaminated talc for more than 30 years, starting when her mother applied it to her in the infant stage and later when she used it for deodorant.

J&J insists its talc product doesn’t contain asbestos and, therefore, does not cause cancer. They also claim that many years of research have proven their security.

A lawyer representing J&J told the jury Lee’s illness was most likely due to exposure to asbestos in an asbestos plant near the place where she grew up.

J&J is facing legal action from over 61,000 people in relation to the use of talc. Most of them are patients with ovarian cancer, with a tiny fraction of mesothelioma sufferers. The company has resolved the majority of mesothelioma cases.

J&J requires support from 75% of the remaining plaintiffs in order to approve the bankruptcy settlement that would stop the litigation, thereby closing off future cases and keeping people from deciding to leave the settlement.

Courts have rejected two previous attempts by J&J to settle the talc-related cases in bankruptcy. J & J has said that the support of plaintiffs will allow this new attempt to be successful.

The plaintiffs who were opposed to the agreement in May filed a collective action lawsuit to stop the deal and call it a “fraudulent” misuse within the bankruptcy process.

The talc trials have seen mixed results and major wins for plaintiffs, including the $2.1 billion verdict in 2021, which was awarded to 22 women who have Ovarian cancer. Then, in April of this year, J&J was awarded a victory in an ovarian cancer case but was struck by a $45 million verdict in a mesothelioma-related case.

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