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J&J ordered to pay $29M in 2019's first talc-related verdict in California

Johnson & Johnson was hit by another verdict in its talc litigation after a California jury awarded $29 million to a woman alleging that the company's products caused her cancer, Reuters reported.

The U.S. pharmaceutical giant is facing about 11,700 legal complaints claiming that its talc products, primarily its flagship baby powder, caused ovarian cancer or mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, heart or abdomen. The plaintiffs have also claimed that the company failed to warn consumers about the presence of asbestos, a known carcinogen, in its baby powder.

The lawsuit was filed by Terry Leavitt, who sued the company claiming that she was diagnosed with mesothelioma after using the company's baby powder and shower to shower powder.

The jury, which delivered the verdict in the California Superior Court in Oakland, concluded that Johnson & Johnson's talc powder was defective and the company failed to warn consumers of the health risks, the report said.

According to Reuters, this was the first talc lawsuit to go to trial in 2019 and also the first one to follow after the news outlet's investigation claimed that the company knew about the presence of asbestos in its baby powder as early as the 1950s.

Johnson & Johnson told Reuters that it would appeal the verdict as the ruling contained "procedural and evidentiary errors" and the plaintiff's lawyers failed to establish that the company's baby powder contained asbestos.

Imerys Talc America Inc., the U.S. unit of French mining company IMERYS, was no longer part of the lawsuit after it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the report added, citing California Superior Court Judge Brad Seligman.

IMERYS said in February that its three talc units – Imerys Talc America, Imerys Talc Vermont, and Imerys Talc Canada Inc. – representing the whole North American talc business voluntarily filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The mining company added that the process allows the units to safeguard their long-term business interests while seeking a permanent resolution to the talc-related liabilities.