After a recent talc trial loss in California and a win in New Jersey, J&J has prevailed in the latest case to reach a verdict. A jury in California sided with the drugmaker, rejecting a plaintiff’s claims that its talc contained asbestos and caused him to develop mesothelioma.
In a case brought by Robert Blinkinsop, a jury voted down allegations that J&J's talc contains asbestos, Bloomberg reports. The victory for J&J comes just weeks after the company scored a win in New Jersey and about a month after another California jury hit the drugmaker with a $29 million verdict. J&J said it would appeal that loss.
A J&J representative on Monday said the ruling is "aligned to the decades of clinical evidence and scientific studies by medical experts around the world that support the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder." Of the 10 most recent mesothelioma cases to reach trial, only one plaintiff prevailed, the spokeswoman said. That trial "suffered significant legal and evidentiary errors and will be appealed," she added.
Mark Bratt, Blinkinsop's lawyer, said in a statement that "given the hundreds of positive historical tests from J&J showing asbestos in its talc containing baby powder, as well as J&J’s ongoing decision to use deceptive testing techniques that allow for false negative results, we have no doubt asbestos was, and currently still is in J&J's talc baby powder products and is the cause of Mr. Blinkinsop’s terminal mesothelioma diagnosis."
"We are disappointed in the jury’s verdict, and believe that asbestos in baby powder remains a huge public health concern that is far bigger than just this case," Bratt added.
On the same day J&J won the case in New Jersey, the company also settled cases in Oklahoma, California and New York, Bloomberg reported. In a statement to the news service, a J&J spokeswoman described the deals as "one-off situations" where settling was a "reasonable alternative" to litigation.
While J&J has started 2019 with some talc wins, last year was more challenging for the company’s defense. Most notably, a St. Louis jury smacked the company with a $4.69 billion verdict, siding with a group of plaintiffs who alleged the company’s talc caused their ovarian cancer. J&J said it would appeal.
Then, in December, Reuters published a report that J&J has known about asbestos in its talc for decades and worked to cover it up. The company’s share prices tumbled, and they still haven’t fully recovered. J&J said at the time that the article was “one-sided, false and inflammatory.” The news service ignored key facts, J&J said, including “thousands of tests” by J&J and others showing that its talc doesn’t contain asbestos.
Earlier in its talc defense, J&J suffered numerous trial losses but succeeded on appeal in many cases. In fact, a J&J spokeswoman last month said, "[I]t remains true that of all the talc-related verdicts against Johnson & Johnson that have been through the appeals process, each one has been overturned.”
As of a recent annual filing, J&J said it faced about 13,000 talc cases. Several units of the company's talc supplier Imerys have filed for bankruptcy protection to defend against "historic" liabilities.
Editor's note: This story was updated with a statement from Blinkinsop's lawyer Mark Bratt.