Product Liability

California jury awards mesothelioma patient $26.5 million in talc trial

September 2, 2021

Christina Prudencio, the plaintiff, says she used talcum powder daily since the age of 16 and is currently suffering from malignant mesothelioma. Prudencio is now 35 and attributes her terminal cancer case to her long-time use of the company’s talc-based baby powder.

A California state jury last Monday awarded a cancer patient $26.5 million in compensatory damages over claims that Johnson & Johnson ignored decades of warnings related to asbestos in its talcum baby powder products, causing mesothelioma and ovarian cancer. Christina Prudencio, the plaintiff, says she used talcum powder daily since the age of 16 and is currently suffering from malignant mesothelioma. Prudencio is now 35 and attributes her terminal cancer case to her long-time use of the company’s talc-based baby powder.  

The Superior Court jury awarded Prudencio $800,000 for past medical expenses, $1.57 million for lost household services, $5 million for past noneconomic damages, $4.1 million for lost past and future income, and $15 million for future noneconomic damages (1). The case moved to the punitive-damages phase last week.  

Prudencio’s lawyer Joseph Satterley heavily criticized Johnson & Johnson in closing arguments of the trial, assigning blame to the company’s historical behavior regarding its talc products – which for decades were touted and defended as “safe” to use.  

Among the many ignored warnings and red flags related to Johnson & Johnson’s talc products, Satterley referenced a particular meeting between the company and a researcher who discovered chrysotile asbestos in the talc back in 1971 (2). "A reasonable company, being told that, would stop, take the product off the marketplace. 'Let's study it; let's look at it; let's see if there's really carcinogens in our product.' That's what a reasonable company does," Satterley told the jury (3).  

The product stayed on the market until 2020, though, when the company finally discontinued sales of its talc-based baby powder – citing a “decline in consumer demand and ‘misinformation’ about the safety of its products” (4). The announcement came several months after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found asbestos during an inspection, prompting a recall of over 33,000 bottles of Johnson’s Baby Powder.

Johnson & Johnson has been fighting a mountain of litigation since then, with thousands of plaintiffs alleging the company’s talc-based baby product caused their mesothelioma and ovarian cancer. The federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) currently contains more than 33,500 pending cases (5).

Johnson & Johnson stated in a report filed with the SEC earlier this year that it has set aside $3.9 billion for “talc-related reserves and settlements.”

We’re here to help

If you or a loved one used talcum powder and have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, we’re here to help. We invite you to join the community of women (and their families) who are holding Johnson & Johnson accountable by asserting your claim. We’d be honored to speak with you.

Click HERE for a free and no-obligation review of your case. You may be entitled to substantial damages without ever going to court. If you do not receive a recovery through a lawsuit or settlement, you don’t owe us anything.

References

  1. https://www.law360.com/productliability/articles/1413774?cn_pk=2d7a6c95-54d8-47e9-984c-421079955078&utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=custom
  2. https://www.law360.com/productliability/articles/1413774?cn_pk=2d7a6c95-54d8-47e9-984c-421079955078&utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=custom
  3. https://www.law360.com/productliability/articles/1413774?cn_pk=2d7a6c95-54d8-47e9-984c-421079955078&utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=custom
  4. https://www.law360.com/articles/1275262
  5. https://www.drugwatch.com/news/2021/06/14/supreme-court-wont-hear-jj-appeal-talc-ovarian-cancer-lawsuit/

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