Hours before the conclusion of closing arguments in the latest trial over claims that Johnson & Johnson and its talc supplier Imerys Talc America knowingly sold asbestos-tainted talcum powder products to consumers that contributed to a woman’s terminal cancer diagnosis, Imerys announced it had reached a settlement with the plaintiff.
The California jury was told by Los Angeles Superior Judge Margaret Oldendorf that they would be receiving a new verdict form to account for Imerys no longer being part of the case, but jurors would still need to assign responsibility for damages; that is, if they found J&J and Imerys liable.
The trial involves the case of Carolyn Weirick, who claimed that Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower body powder contained asbestos, and that her near-daily use over 45 years of the products caused her to develop mesothelioma, a rare but deadly form of cancer that forms in the lining of the lungs, abdomen or other internal organs. Mesothelioma is caused by asbestos exposure, and can take decades to develop. Once diagnosed, asbestos cancer can prove deadly within 12 to 24 months.
The terms of Imerys’ settlement with Weirick were not disclosed.
Last summer, Imerys faced another trial with Johnson & Johnson over claims that the talc Imerys suppled to J&J contained asbestos and contributed to ovarian cancer in 22 women. Imerys agreed to settle the case just before it went to trial. The St. Louis jury later found J&J was to blame for the women’s diagnoses, slapping the consumer health care giant with a whopping $4.69 billion judgment. The terms of Imerys’ settlement with the women was not disclosed, but Bloomberg reported people familiar with the case said it was at least $5 million.
Imerys’ impetus to settle in that case was likely spurred by a previous trial Imerys faced with J&J. In that case last April, a New Jersey jury slapped Johnson & Johnson and Imerys with a combined $117 million verdict. Imerys was found responsible for 30 percent of the damages.