Another Multi-Million Dollar Jury Award May Put Johnson & Johnson's Back Up Against The Wall
Plaintiff talc-testing expert has the credibility of having survived Daubert scrutiny
Monday, August 30, 2021 - California continues to be a largely plaintiff-friendly state for those seeking to hold large corporations accountable for their misdeeds. Christina Prudencio, a 35-year old former San Jose, California pre-school teacher, was awarded $26.5 million in a talcum powder lawsuit, for her pain and suffering and eventually developing mesothelioma from not only using Johnson's Baby Powder as a child but also from breathing it second hand when her siblings used it. Mesothelioma is a deadly disease caused by inhaling microscopic but jagged asbestos particles that create tiny lacerations in the most delicate lining of the lungs called the alveoli. When the alveoli naturally heal, inelastic scar tissue forms making it gradually more difficult to breathe. Victims of mesothelioma like the plaintiff slowly suffocate to death. Most of the $26 million awarded to the woman were punitive damages intended to punish Johnson & Johnson for the reprehensible handling of its knowledge more than 50 years ago that asbestos could cause cancer and contaminated its talc supply. For the record, the company continues to claim that Johnson's Baby Powder is safe, pure, and asbestos-free despite the findings of asbestos by the Food and Drug Administration and other expert microscope scientists. In May of 2020, Johnson & Johnson confirmed the talcum powder cancer risk by discontinued selling the iconic yet controversial brand of baby care product citing a slow down in sales due to misinformation in the press about the safety of talcum powder. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, "Jurors in Prudencio's case saw through all the lies by Johnson & Johnson, Satterley (attorney for the plaintiff) said Friday."
Earlier in the month, a California appellate court confirmed a recent verdict where a jury awarded Teresa Elizabeth Leavitt $29.4 million for the mesothelioma she allegedly developed from inhaling asbestos contaminated Johnson's Baby Powder. "Leavitt reported her mother used J&J baby powder on her as an infant, and she continued using the product as a face powder and dry shampoo for more than 30 years. She was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2017," Cosmetics and Toiletries online reported. The appeal challenged the expert witness testimony of Dr. William Longo, a Georgia-based microscope scientist who uses a testing method more advanced than the one that Johnson & Johnson and the cosmetics industry have used for more than half a century. The appellate court confirmed that Dr. Longo's methods were valid as per the 2019 Daubert hearings on the matter when Dr. Longo and his company were among four plaintiff experts that passed muster. A New Jersey judge deliberated for more than six months before accepting Dr. Longo's more sensitive heavy liquid separation (HLS) method of talc testing.
More than 35,000 talcum powder lawsuits are pending against Johnson & Johnson which appears to now have its back up against a wall. The company has threatened to form a separate company and spin-off the baby powder business and other products they make that use talc, into a separate entity and then file for bankruptcy. Plaintiff lawyers are furious that the move would shield the vast Johnson & Johnson fortune, much of it earned from selling talcum powder, from the hundreds of billions of dollars of talcum powder cancer claims currently lodged against them.