According to multiple reports, the cause-and-effect relationship between Johnson & Johnson and mesothelioma is now the center of a criminal investigation.
Bloomberg cited “people with knowledge of the matter” in a report last week, when the news website revealed the U.S. Justice Department was looking into Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder. Specifically, investigators want to know if Johnson & Johnson lied to the public about the dangers of using its talcum-included baby powder.
The company is the defendant in numerous lawsuits, in which the plaintiffs claim their baby powder includes asbestos. Exposure to this mineral can cause mesothelioma, among other health concerns, and is the only proven source of the cancer.
According to the Bloomberg article, Johnson & Johnson is involved in more than 14,000 civil lawsuits related to its baby powder. While many of these have resulted in multi-million-dollar mesothelioma compensation payments to victims, the company has steered clear of any criminal penalties. Now, a grand jury in Washington is scrutinizing documents related to what the company’s decision-makers knew about the carcinogens in the products.
Baby Powder and Mesothelioma
In the second half of the 20th century, scientists revealed that asbestos ingestion or inhalation could lead to mesothelioma. The most common way people developed the disease was through occupational asbestos exposure. Trades involving construction and insulation of homes, vehicles or products requiring fire-resistant properties were the most at risk.
However, in the 21st century, lawsuits began piling on companies that sell talcum-based health and beauty products. Claire’s, for instance, is another corporation receiving legal and ethical scrutiny for its role in around 3,300 new cases of mesothelioma in the U.S. each year.
Talcum, also called talc, is a mineral used in powder form. It’s often found within the earth in close proximity to asbestos. Due to their neighborly relationship, asbestos often contaminates talcum and thus stains talc-based products.
The companies who process talcum, include the mineral in their products and sell the products to consumers are responsible for identifying and removing health risks. They are also obligated to inform the public of any dangers associated with their goods. The decision to keep the information secretive is largely why so many patients can file lawsuits and receive mesothelioma compensation.
Johnson & Johnson’s Knowledge of Dangers
Johnson & Johnson asserts that safety tests reveal no trace of asbestos in the company’s products. However, a Reuters report from December 2018 purports that Johnson & Johnson knew for many years of asbestos contamination in the talcum items. Bloomberg cites internal memos dating back decades — to the 1970s — that infers Johnson & Johnson officials knew of the dangers. Yet, the company never made a public statement about asbestos infiltration.
Could that lead to criminal charges or penalties?
Company spokesperson Kim Montagnino said the business is “fully cooperating” with the investigation and reasserted that the baby powder “does not contain asbestos or cause cancer.”
If you have used Johnson & Johnson baby powder and developed mesothelioma — even decades after the last time you used the product — you might be eligible for compensation. Our legal experts can look into the specifics of your diagnosis, work history and more to determine who is at fault for your disease. Contact our patient advocate, Carl Jewett, at email@example.com for information on your next steps.
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- Johnson & Johnson knew for decades that asbestos lurked in its Baby Powder. Reuters. Retrieved from: https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/johnsonandjohnson-cancer/. Accessed: 03/17/19.
- J&J Denials of Asbestos in Baby Powder Spur Criminal Probe. Bloomberg. Retrieved from: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-07-12/j-j-denials-of-asbestos-in-baby-powder-spur-u-s-criminal-probe. Accessed: 07/15/19.