Johnson and Johnson Talcum Powder Lawsuit Dismissed in California

A federal judge in California last week dismissed a talcum powder lawsuit against global health and personal care products giant Johnson and Johnson. Claimants Louisa Gutierrez and Debbie Luna alleged that they were “misled” about asbestos in Johnson and Johnson’s talcum powder by company advertising implying the powder was safe. 

On Jan. 22 U.S. District Court Judge Todd Robinson dismissed the talcum powder lawsuit “with prejudice,” which means that the decision is final and can’t be appealed or corrected, as reported by Law360.

According to Robinson, the law required Gutierrez and Luna to produce the advertising they relied on to conclude that the talcum powder was safe, which they failed to do. He also noted that they didn’t make a connection between Johnson and Johnson talcum powder and their cancers. 

In order to prove that a company “failed to warn” of the product’s danger, the claimant must show that companies did not take “reasonable” steps to warn their consumers of potential risks in the use, or even misuse, of the product. The judge said the claimants didn’t sufficiently show there was an actual risk to using the talcum powder which would warrant a warning.

Talcum powder is made from talc, which can become contaminated when mined with asbestos, a known carcinogen. Talc and asbestos are both naturally-occurring minerals and often occur near each other underground.

Johnson and Johnson discontinued talcum powder sales in the U.S. in May 2020. In October 2019 the company issued a voluntary recall of nearly 33,000 talcum powder bottles after the Food and Drug Administration found trace amounts of asbestos in a single one. Johnson and Johnson said it was facing nearly 22,000 lawsuits alleging cancer caused by asbestos in its talcum powder, Reuters reported late last year. 

Johnson and Johnson Settled Mid-Trial for More Than $2 Million 

More than two weeks into a trial in California state court, Johnson and Johnson apparently settled with a claimant who alleged that the company’s asbestos-contaminated baby powder caused her cancer. This was according to “people familiar with the case” as Bloomberg reported on Jan. 6.

Johnson and Johnson Pins Hope on Supreme Court Appeal for $2.1 Billion Talc Verdict

Johnson and Johnson is also currently fighting a $2.1 billion verdict that was awarded to 22 female claimants with ovarian cancer in a 2018 talcum powder cancer verdict. On Nov. 3, the Missouri Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal. Now Johnson and Johnson is appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court.