The mesothelioma and talcum powder lawsuit involving Johnson & Johnson and plaintiffs' Linda and Mark O’Hagan has come to an abrupt close after the pharmaceutical corporation settled out of court. Announced on Jan. 6, 2020, the settlement amount remains undisclosed.
Notably, the jury in this case was the first to hear evidence of asbestos contamination in a bottle of Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder, as confirmed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in October. The evidence provides a sharp contrast to Johnson & Johnson’s stance throughout litigation that their product does not and never has contained asbestos.
Law360 reported that Alameda County Judge Stephen Kaus' made the settlement announcement to the jury, stating that “the parties have settled their case... I don’t know what the settlement is; I just know that it’s resolved."
Prior to the settlement, attorneys representing the plaintiffs had told the jury that a blind test of Johnson & Johnson talc conducted by the FDA found chrysotile asbestos in a sample and that as a result Johnson & Johnson had recalled a large lot of their product in compliance with the FDA. After the recall, Johnson & Johnson announced that independent testing by two third-party labs on behalf of its corporation found no asbestos.
Though the jury had been expected to directly weigh the difference in findings in its deliberations, the settlement has removed that possibility. Johnson & Johnson maintained that Linda O'Hagan's mesothelioma was not caused by their products and likely wasn’t caused by asbestos contamination in the first place.
Jan. 8, 2020 Update: The settlement amount is more than $2 billion, according to Bloomberg.