A deadlocked jury after a week of deliberations in a case blaming Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products for causing a woman’s mesothelioma has prompted a mistrial.
During the week-long deliberations, the Pasadena, California jury had indicated to Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Margaret Oldendorf that it couldn’t reach a consensus in the case brought by Carolyn Weirick and her wife Elvira Escudero. The couple alleged that J&J’s talc-containing products contained asbestos and Weirick’s regular use of the products caused her to develop mesothelioma, a rare but deadly cancer linked to asbestos exposure.
Before declaring a mistrial, Judge Oldendorf questioned each of the 12 jurors to ask if there was any additional information or legal instruction that could be provided to help them reach a decision in the case. Some jurors asked for additional evidence while one juror said that they didn’t believe the expert testimony by some of the experts. Judge Oldendorf said that it was not the job of the jurors to decide whether experts were believable.
Weirick’s suit is the latest in a wave of cases accusing Johnson & Johnson of knowing that its talcum powder products were contaminated with asbestos but failed to warn consumers of the risks. Asbestos is a mineral mined from the earth much like talc. But asbestos is carcinogenic. Its tiny fibers can be swallowed or inhaled and, over decades, cause serious health problems including lung cancer and mesothelioma, a type of cancer that forms in the lining of the lungs, abdomen and other internal organs.
In a separate line of attack, several women have sued Johnson & Johnson claiming that regular use of the company’s talcum powder products on their genitals for feminine hygiene caused them to develop ovarian cancer.
Weirick’s lawsuit also names J&J’s talc supplier, Imerys Talc America.