On January 7, 2019, a California jury heard opening statements in a latest talcum powder trial over allegations against Johnson & Johnson that their baby powder was contaminated with cancer-causing asbestos fibers. An attorney representing a dying woman told the jury J&J knew for decades about asbestos exposure risks but failed to warn the general public or take necessary actions.
The lawsuit filed by Terry Leavitt in Alameda Superior Court in Oakland is the first case to go for trial this year among a dozen talc cases filed against J&J. Leavitt claimed in her lawsuit that she was exposed to the company's cosmetic talc that originated from South Korea during the first two years of her life in the Philippines. She moved to the United States in 1968 and was diagnosed with mesothelioma only in 2017. Her attorney, Joseph Satterley told, testing done on Asian talc samples from the 1960s and 1970s by his own experts would show Korean-mined talc contained asbestos in them. In the court filings, J&J said fibers found in Korean talc or any of their talc cannot be classified as asbestos and asserted they were harmless non-asbestos fibers.
According to a Bloomberg report, J&J would face nearly three times as many talcum trial this year including a case with 38 plaintiffs scheduled for an August trial in Missouri’s St. Louis Circuit Court. In a one of its kind settlement agreement, J&J recently declared to pay more than $1.5 million to settle a Manhattan woman’s lawsuit in which she blamed exposure to asbestos fibers from J&J's talcum powder for her mesothelioma. J&J faces more than 11,000 talcum powder lawsuits across the U.S. filed on behalf of individuals who claimed they were diagnosed with mesothelioma and ovarian cancer due to asbestos exposure from the company's talc-based products. So far, J&J has won three cases and another five has ended in mistrials, and the company has appealed all of the plaintiff victory verdicts.