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J&J notches a win in another talc powder lawsuit

A jury in New Jersey has granted Johnson & Johnson a win in one of a string of lawsuits regarding the company's talc powder, which has been alleged to contain cancer-causing asbestos, Bloomberg News reported.

Rosalind Henry claimed that she developed mesothelioma due to the New Brunswick, N.J.-based company's failure to warn its customers of the presence of asbestos in its baby powder. Mesothelioma is a cancer in the lining of internal organs and is caused by exposure to asbestos. Johnson & Johnson's lawyers argued that Henry came in contact with asbestos at her workplace, with the illness resulting from exposure to radiation during her thyroid cancer treatments.

After deliberating for less than a day, a jury in the New Jersey Superior Court rejected the woman's claims that the pharmaceutical giant knowingly sold talc powder that contained asbestos, Bloomberg reported Oct. 11. Johnson & Johnson and its talc supplier IMERYS had previously been ordered to pay $30 million in damages to separate plaintiff after losing an earlier talc powder trial in New Jersey.

The ruling, which will be the company's first trial win in the state, comes after two recent California lawsuits resulted in mistrials due to the juries' failure to reach a verdict. Johnson & Johnson is facing more than 10,000 lawsuits over talc cancer claims but has denied that its products were contaminated with asbestos.

The company has previously managed to overturn multimillion-dollar verdicts handed down in individual talc cases, such as a $417 million verdict in Los Angeles, and $55 million and $72 million verdicts in Missouri. Both the reversals in Missouri stemmed from a Supreme Court ruling, which set limits on where lawsuits can be filed against companies that operate in multiple states.

Johnson & Johnson, however, continues to challenge other rulings, including a $110 million verdict in Missouri and a $4.69 billion verdict handed down by a St. Louis jury in July in response to 22 women's claims that they developed ovarian cancer due to asbestos present in the company's talc products.

The decision confirms that Johnson & Johnson's baby powder does not contain asbestos, a company spokeswoman told Bloomberg News.