Jury selection is currently underway for the first case in New Jersey state court to go to trial against Johnson & Johnson over allegations that the consumer health care giant’s talcum powder-based personal hygiene products caused mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive cancer that develops in the lining of the lungs, abdomen or heart. Opening arguments are scheduled for Jan. 16, in Middlesex County Superior Court before Judge Ana Viscomi.
The New Jersey case is the second to go to trial involving allegations that products like Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower cause mesothelioma. The first, which ended late last year, fell in favor of the defense.
The mesothelioma link to talc-containing personal hygiene products is a new angle in talc-related litigation. In previous years, juries in Missouri and California returned several multi-million dollar verdicts in favor of women who claimed that using the products on their genitals over time caused ovarian cancer. Similar cases are pending against Johnson & Johnson.
The mesothelioma cases are different in that they claim that the talcum powder in Johnson & Johnson’s products contains asbestos, a known carcinogen, and that inhalation of those products caused mesothelioma.
Plaintiffs in both angles of the talcum powder suits claim that Johnson & Johnson was aware of studies dating back to the 1970s that talc contained asbestos but failed to warn consumers in an effort to protect sales and its brand. Johnson & Johnson claims that its products never contained asbestos.
According to the American Cancer Society, talcum powder is made from talc, a mineral made up of several elements, and in its natural form can contain asbestos. Asbestos is a substance that is known to cause some cancers, including mesothelioma, in and around the lungs when inhaled.
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American Cancer Society