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Woman awarded $43m in Johnson & Johnson baby powder case

Newshub logoNewshub 15/03/2019 Jamie Ensor
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Pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay NZ$43 million after a woman claimed her cancer was caused by its talcum powder products.

On Thursday, a California jury awarded US$24.4 million to Teresa Leavitt and US$5 million to her partner, Dean McElroy, after Leavitt developed mesothelioma, a tissue cancer that lines lungs and other important organs.

The jury decided that Johnson & Johnson was liable for Leavitt developing cancer after it found the talcum powder-based products used on her in the 1960s contributed to her illness.

Lawyers argued that the talcum was contaminated with asbestos and the company has known its products were harmful for decades, but Johnson & Johnson denies this.

"Yet another jury has rejected J&J's misleading claims that its talc was free of asbestos," said Moshe Maimon, a lawyer for Leavitt.

The award is compensatory damages to repay the couple for their loss, rather than punitive damage to punish Johnson & Johnson.

The company is facing nearly 14,000 similar cases related to the talcum powder-based products and has announced it would appeal the decision on the basis that no sufficient evidence had been tabled.

In 2017, a Virginia woman won nearly NZ$160 million after it was found Johnson & Johnson's talcum products contributed to her being diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

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