Johnson & Johnson hit with $29.4 million verdict in talcum powder case


A California jury returned a $29.4 million verdict in a trial involving a woman who believes that her mesothelioma is tied to her regular use of Johnson & Johnson's talcum powder.

Wednesday's decision came after a lengthy trial that started in January. The jury awarded $24.4 million to Teresa Leavitt and $5 million to her spouse, Dean McElroy. Leavitt developed mesothelioma, a cancer of the tissue that lines lungs and other organs.

The award is compensatory damages only, to repay the couple for their loss. The jury decided against awarding punitive damages, which are designed to punish the defendants -- in this case Johnson & Johnson and the other companies involved in making the talcum powder -- for reckless or negligent behavior. The jury found J&J responsible for 98% of the damages.

Nearly 14,000 cases are making their way through the legal system against Johnson & Johnson related to its talc products and people who feel that using them caused their cancer. Some lawyers, such as in this case, have argued that the talc is contaminated with asbestos and that Johnson & Johnson knew that its products were contaminated for decades. They have introduced internal company documents to that effect.

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