Johnson & Johnson Settles 3 Mesothelioma Lawsuits

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baby powder and stethoscope

Johnson & Johnson has settled three lawsuits brought by women who claim they developed mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos in the company’s baby powder products. Two of the negotiated deals occurred in the midst of trials.

The settlements come as the company faces thousands of talcum powder lawsuits filed by people who developed mesothelioma or ovarian cancer after exposure to its baby powder products.

Sharon Pipes, 77, received an 11th-hour settlement from the company as an Oklahoma jury began deliberations at the end of a two-and-a-half week trial.

Pipes was diagnosed with mesothelioma of the abdominal lining in 2017 after five decades of using Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products and other brands of talcum powder. The aggressive cancer is linked to asbestos and is usually fatal.

Pipes was seeking $13.1 million in damages and $580,000 for past and future medical expenses, according to The Oklahoman. Although the financial terms of the settlement weren’t disclosed, Pipes’ attorney told the newspaper it was the amount her client wanted.

According to the paper, Pipes also received settlements from several other talcum powder manufacturers, including Colgate-Palmolive, Avon and the parent company of Yardley. All were named as defendants in her lawsuit.

Diagnosed with cancer after talcum powder use? Get a Free Case Review

The same day that Johnson & Johnson reached the deal with Pipes, the company also struck a settlement with California plaintiff Gail Koretoff.

The 36-year-old woman was diagnosed with mesothelioma of the lining of the lungs in 2016 after she collapsed on her kitchen floor. She blames her diagnosis on more than three decades’ use of Johnson’s Baby Powder.

In opening statements, Koretoff’s lawyers told a Santa Monica jury that Johnson & Johnson had sold a “deceptively dangerous” product that was contaminated with asbestos, according to the Northern California Record.

Johnson & Johnson’s attorneys denied those allegations and said the company’s baby powder never contained asbestos, but the company struck a deal to settle the case two days into the trial.

Around the same time, the company also reached a settlement in a case brought by Jenny Shulman in New York. Doctors diagnosed her with mesothelioma when she was 40 years old after she underwent surgery for endometrial cancer in 2016. She alleges the disease was caused by exposure to asbestos in Johnson’s Baby Powder, which she used for feminine hygiene purposes for many years.

Shulman’s case was set to go to trial in April 2019.

In December 2018, Johnson & Johnson and the company’s talc supplier, Imerys SA, settled a similar mesothelioma case for $1.5 million. The agreement marked the first time the company had settled a talc lawsuit. Thus far, the company has only settled mesothelioma cases, which make up the bulk of talc litigation slated for trial in 2019.

A Johnson & Johnson spokeswoman denied that the recent settlements represented a shift in the company’s litigation strategy, telling Bloomberg that they were “one-off situations.”

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Nurse Amy Keller
Written By Amy Keller, RN Registered Nurse

Amy Keller is a registered nurse and award-winning journalist with 22 years of experience writing about politics, business, health and other topics. At Drugwatch, she draws on her clinical experience and investigative reporting skills to write about consumers’ health concerns such as the safety of online pharmacies. She also provides informed analysis on complex health issues. Some of her qualifications include:

  • Recipient of USF’s Nurse Alumni Nightingale award for excellence in nursing
  • Guest Faculty Speaker, “Moving Forward with Patient- and Family-Centered Care Intensive Training Seminar”
  • Member of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing
Edited By

7 Cited Research Articles

  1. District Court of Oklahoma County State of Oklahoma. (2017, June 19). Sharon Pipes et al. v. American Honda Motor Corp. et al.: Original Petition. Retrieved from https://www.oscn.net/dockets/GetDocument.aspx?ct=oklahoma&bc=1036923490&cn=CJ-2017-3487&fmt=pdf
  2. Feeley, J., Fisk, M.C. & Korosec, T. (2019, March 27). J&J’s Sudden Talc-Cancer Settlements Aren’t its Usual Style. Retrieved from https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-03-27/johnson-johnson-settles-oklahoma-talc-cancer-case
  3. Martinez-Keel, N. (2019, March 28). Johnson & Johnson Reaches Settlement. Retrieved from https://www.examiner-enterprise.com/news/20190328/johnson--johnson-reaches-settlement
  4. Sammon, J. (2019, March 26). Mesothelioma trial opens in Santa Monica; Mother says disease first suspected to be a stomach ache. Retrieved from https://norcalrecord.com/stories/512325312-mesothelioma-trial-opens-in-santa-monica-mother-says-disease-first-suspected-to-be-stomach-ache
  5. Sammon, J. (2019, March 27). Trial in Santa Monica mesothelioma case settles two days into case. Retrieved from https://norcalrecord.com/stories/512328765-trial-in-santa-monica-mesothelioma-case-settles-two-days-into-case
  6. Siegel, D. (2019, March 27). BREAKING: Johnson & Johnson Reaches 1st Mid-Trial Cosmetic Talc Settlement. Retrieved from https://blog.cvn.com/breaking-jj-strikes-1st-mid-trial-cosmetic-talc-settlement
  7. Supreme Court New York County. (2018, November 18). Shulman v. Brenntag N. Am. Inc.: 2018 NY Slip Opinion 32943. Retrieved from https://law.justia.com/cases/new-york/other-courts/2018/2018-ny-slip-op-32943-u.html
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