The latest high-profile talc and mesothelioma lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson doesn’t come from an individual but an entire county.
Los Angeles County in California filed a lawsuit against the health and beauty conglomerate for the company’s talc Baby Powder product’s connection to mesothelioma, according to Law360.com’s report.
Mesothelioma, a rare cancer, is diagnosed in an estimated 2,500 people in the U.S. each year. However, it spreads quickly and has a 5-year survival rate of approximately 12%.
The only known cause of mesothelioma is exposure to the mineral asbestos. This cancer forms in the thin tissue linings of the lungs, abdominal cavity and heart due to small sharp asbestos fibers entering these linings and irritating cells until they mutate and become cancerous.
Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder was made with talc for decades, and talc is a naturally occurring mineral that can be contaminated by asbestos. Exposure to asbestos in Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder has also led to cases of lung cancer, ovarian cancer and a deadly lung scarring disease called asbestosis.
There is a well-documented link between talc and mesothelioma due to the possibility of asbestos in talcum powder, which is the main ingredient in Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder.
More Details of Los Angeles County’s Lawsuit
The lawsuit filed by Los Angeles County alleges Johnson & Johnson knew for decades that talc could be toxic to human health but continued to promote talc-containing products to people nationwide, including residents of Los Angeles County.
“Defendants’ marketing, promotion and sale of the products have created widespread public health impacts including increased risks of cancer, severe illness, cancer and death in Los Angeles County and California,” the lawsuit reads.
This is not the first instance of a government entity suing Johnson & Johnson for this reason. In 2020, New Mexico sued for alleged asbestos contamination in Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and “misleading consumers” by claiming the product was safe.
The lawsuit also claims Johnson & Johnson targeted Hispanic and African American women in its marketing of the talc Baby Powder. California has the largest Hispanic population of any state in the United States.
This is not the first time Johnson & Johnson has been accused of targeting a minority group with its marketing, either. In 2021, the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) filed a lawsuit claiming the corporation strategically promoted their cancer-causing baby powder to black women.
Johnson & Johnson announced in 2020 it would stop manufacturing, advertising, and selling its talc Baby Powder in the U.S. and Canada. A couple of years later, the company stopped doing the same worldwide. However, the lawsuit from Los Angeles County alleges residents could still purchase the talc version of the Baby Powder on Amazon as of Sept. 29, 2023.
Johnson & Johnson has tried to avoid cancer lawsuits with a tactic called the “Texas Two-Step.” This legal maneuver involves creating a subsidiary and offloading all legal liabilities related to an asbestos product to the subsidiary. The subsidiary – which Johnson & Johnson named “LTL Management” – then files for a reorganization bankruptcy to avoid being an active defendant in court.
This allows the company to avoid lawsuits, but the courts require the subsidiary to create a bank account called an asbestos trust fund. This trust fund settles ongoing lawsuits and compensates future victims who file for compensation.
Johnson & Johnson has made two attempts for a Texas Two-Step, but both were blocked by a judge.
Sources & Author
LA County Latest To Hit Johnson & Johnson With Talc Suit. Law360. Retrieved from: https://www.law360.com/articles/1739098/la-county-latest-to-hit-johnson-johnson-with-talc-suit. Accessed: 11/03/2023.
Sources & Author