Johnson & Johnson to pay $42m in baby powder cancer payout

California jury orders J&J to pay US$29 million in latest talc cancer trial

A California jury has awarded $29 million to a woman who claimed talcum-powder-based Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) products caused her cancer.

This lawsuit is one of over 13,000 that Johnson & Johnson is now facing over its talc baby powder.

The jury awarded $24.4 million to Teresa Leavitt and $5 million to her spouse, Dean McElroy.

"Yet another jury has rejected J&J's misleading claims that its talc was free of asbestos", said Moshe Maimon, a lawyer for Leavitt, in a statement on Wednesday.

Analysts at UBS say the ruling could encourage more lawsuits against the company.

"We are disappointed with today's verdict and will pursue an appeal because Johnson's Baby Powder does not contain asbestos or cause cancer", Kim Montagnino, a J&J spokeswoman, said in an emailed statement. Exposure to it may increase risks of a number of diseases such as lung cancer and mesothelioma.

Leavitt's was the first talc case to go to trial since Reuters on December 14 published a report detailing that J&J knew that the talc in its raw and finished powders sometimes tested positive for small amounts of asbestos from the 1970s into the early 2000s - test results it did not disclose to regulators or consumers.

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J&J attorneys asserted in court that there's no conclusive evidence talc caused Leavitt's mesothelioma.

Just past year, a jury decided that Johnson & Johnson had to pay more than $4 billion in damages to a group of women who claimed that asbestos in its products caused their ovarian cancers.

Talc is a soft mineral that is often found with asbestos.

Johnson & Johnson also claims on its "Facts about Talc" website that every verdict that has gone through the appellate process has been overturned. The company has had some talc-related verdicts thrown out and is appealing others.

J&J has refused to put a warning on its recognizable white bottles bearing the powder, even though a separate California jury previous year asked a judge to order the company to do so. Among the recent verdicts include Los Angeles jury's award of $21.7 million to a woman who accused the company of causing cancer to her with its powder products. They have the House Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy also took a closer look at the science that may link talc to cancer and explored the possibility of creating a law that would more closely regulate the cosmetic and personal products industry.

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