To say that 2019 was not kind to Johnson & Johnson would be an understatement, even if their problems were largely self-inflicted. The company fended off countless lawsuits over their famed Baby Powder and other talc-based products bearing their brand.
Even though talc and asbestos are two different minerals, contamination occurs due to the proximity of both to each other in mines, increasing the likelihood that loose fibers mix with the powder. Users can easily inhale the powder without knowing that they are ingesting asbestos fibers.
Strong, Six-Figure Messages
The legal actions involved consumers accusing J&J of selling talcum powder containing asbestos. Exposure can lead to mesothelioma and other forms of cancer. Victims subject to exposure range from infants to adults.
The first lawsuit was costly, filed by a customer claiming that Johnson & Johnson products. A California jury found in favor of the plaintiff and ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $29.4 million. While that represents a healthy sum, it was as minuscule as the fibers that did significant and potentially fatal harm.
Two months later, a jury returned with a verdict that packed a tenfold punch. The case was similar, but the verdict was well into six figures. J&J was ordered to pay twenty-five million in compensatory damages and $300 million in punitive damages.
The following three lawsuits resulted in verdicts ranging between $12 million and $185 million. One involved a perfume from Colgate called Cashmere Bouquet.
These verdicts, particularly those that imposed punitive damages, strive to send strong messages to companies that continue to traffic in this deadly carcinogen. Their choices are clear. Ethical business practices or Out-of-Business signs for their doors.