Johnson & Johnson Faces Hefty Fine Over Contaminated Baby Powder

Written by Camilla Jessen

Jun.04 - 2024 10:16 AM CET

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Photo: Rafapress / Shutterstock.com
Photo: Rafapress / Shutterstock.com
Johnson & Johnson faces massive fines in a high-stakes talcum powder lawsuit.

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A US court has awarded $60 million in damages to a cancer patient due to allegedly contaminated baby powder from Johnson & Johnson. The company is also required to pay an additional $200 million fine.

A 48-year-old cancer patient has won a significant victory against the US pharmaceutical and consumer goods company Johnson & Johnson (J&J).

On Monday, as reported by Der Spiegel, a jury in Portland awarded Kyung Lee and her husband $60 million in damages in a lawsuit over allegedly asbestos-contaminated talcum powder. The jury also ordered J&J to pay a $200 million fine.

Kyung Lee was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a disease caused by asbestos exposure, last year at the age of 48. Lee argued that her fatal cancer, which affects the tissue around her heart, resulted from nearly 30 years of exposure to asbestos through J&J baby powder and deodorants.

J&J's Defense and Appeal

Despite the ruling, Johnson & Johnson maintains that its baby powder is safe.

During the trial, a J&J attorney suggested that Lee's illness was likely caused by asbestos exposure from a factory near her home, not from the baby powder.

The company has announced plans to appeal the decision, arguing that the verdict contradicts decades of independent scientific evaluations confirming that its talcum powder does not contain asbestos and does not cause cancer.

Johnson & Johnson is currently facing lawsuits from over 61,000 plaintiffs in the United States related to its talcum powder products. Most of these plaintiffs are women with ovarian cancer, while a smaller number are mesothelioma patients.

The company has been seeking to settle the majority of these lawsuits through bankruptcy proceedings, proposing a $6.48 billion settlement. Previous attempts to resolve the cases through bankruptcy have been rejected by the courts.

The litigation over J&J's talcum powder has yielded mixed results. In 2021, a victory for plaintiffs saw a $2.1 billion award to 22 women with ovarian cancer. In April, J&J won an ovarian cancer lawsuit but was subsequently ordered to pay $45 million in a mesothelioma case.

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