- First of over a dozen talc trials begins for Johnson & Johnson
- J&J and co-defendant Imerys Tal America argue products are safe and asbestos-free
Opening statements commenced on Monday in Johnson & Johnson’s latest talc trial. A series of allegations have claimed that the Company’s talc-based products, specifically its baby powder, were contaminated with cancer-causing asbestos.
The Company is facing some 11,700 lawsuits with over a dozen cases scheduled for trial in 2019 over the safety of talc in its products.
J&J’s first lawsuit this year comes from California resident Terry Leavitt, who blames her mesothelioma on asbestos contamination. In Monday’s opening statement, Levitt’s lawyer Joseph Statterly accused Johnson & Johnson of knowingly selling a dangerous product. “The evidence will show that J&J knew about the asbestos risk and they continued to sell the product, giving consumers no opportunity to protect themselves,” he said.
Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) and co-defendant Imerys Talc America have argued in court that numerous studies have shown their products to be safe and asbestos-free. A lawyer for Imerys told the jury that Levitt’s mesothelioma was not caused by J&J baby powder.
On Dec. 14, Reuters published a special report detailing internal J&J documents showing small traces of asbestos detected in the company’s raw and finished powders from the 1970s into the early 2000s. The report prompted a stock selloff on fears of liability. Shares on Monday closed 14% below their Dec. 13 value.
In response to the accusations against the safety of Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder, the Company released a video message defending its product. “For over 100 years, Johnson & Johnson has known that the talc in our baby powder is the purest, safest pharmaceutical-grade talc on Earth,” said Chairman and CEO Alex Gorsky.