Even if Johnson & Johnson prevails in court, its trusted brand could be irreparably damaged.
A new Reuters report says the company has known for years that an amount of asbestos, a known carcinogen, could be found in the talc in its baby powder. The company has denied the claims in print and in court as lawsuits pile up against the manufacturer.
The report cites documents that have come to light in recent litigation.
The evidence of what J&J knew has surfaced after people who suspected that talc caused their cancers hired lawyers experienced in the decades-long deluge of litigation involving workers exposed to asbestos. Some of the lawyers knew from those earlier cases that talc producers tested for asbestos, and they began demanding J&J’s testing documentation.
What J&J produced in response to those demands has allowed plaintiffs’ lawyers to refine their argument: The culprit wasn’t necessarily talc itself, but also asbestos in the talc. That assertion, backed by decades of solid science showing that asbestos causes mesothelioma and is associated with ovarian and other cancers, has had mixed success in court.
Johnson & Johnson has already been losing in court.