Facing a raft of talcum powder lawsuits nationwide, Johnson & Johnson has already been on the wrong side of big penalties in New Jersey and California. Two weeks after losing a case in the latter, J&J can take solace in notching another defense win.
A Torrance, California, jury returned a defense verdict to J&J Wednesday in a lawsuit alleging the drugmaker’s talc products caused 60-year-old schoolteacher Carolyn Weirick to develop mesothelioma. The verdict followed a five-week retrial after an original jury failed to reach a decision, according to the Courtroom View Network.
In a statement, J&J applauded the win, which was the drugmaker's seventh jury trial victory.
"The jury got it right—Johnson’s Baby Powder does not contain asbestos and was not the cause of the plaintiff’s disease," the company said.
The latest win for J&J comes on the heels of recent setbacks in California and New Jersey courtrooms, which both slapped hefty penalties on the drugmaker.
Most recently, in a separate California verdict earlier this month, a jury leveled a $40 million penalty against J&J, arguing the company’s baby powder contained asbestos and caused a 70-year-old woman to develop mesothelioma.
Just weeks before, a New Jersey jury had ordered the drugmaker to pay $37.3 million to four plaintiffs on the same grounds. In a unique twist, the judge struck J&J’s entire closing argument after the company's lawyer called the plaintiffs' attorneys “sinister.”
A J&J spokeswoman said at the time the company would appeal the decision.
Those recent losses pale in comparison to past verdicts for J&J. In 2018, a St. Louis jury knocked the drugmaker with an eye-popping $4.69 billion penalty after a trial that combined the claims of 22 plaintiffs. Other recent losses include verdicts worth $325 million and $25 million in California and New York, respectively. J&J has said it plans to appeal each loss.
Despite those setbacks, J&J has emerged mostly unscathed from the talc litigation with no negative verdicts surviving appeals so far, the company said.
As recently as August, J&J won another defense verdict in Kentucky after a jury rejected claims that talc products from J&J and Colgate-Palmolive caused plaintiff Donna Hayes to develop mesothelioma. It was the first case to reach a jury verdict in the state, and the panel deliberated for just 30 minutes.