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J&J Prevails in Legal Battle as Florida Woman’s Cancer Claim Linked to Its Baby Powder is Dismissed

Following the conclusion of a trial in Florida, a jury determined that Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder talc product was not responsible for causing the ovarian cancer of a Florida woman who passed away in 2019.

The lawsuit was initiated by relatives of Patricia Matthey, a resident of Sarasota County, who had been using Johnson’s baby powder daily since 1965 until her ovarian cancer diagnosis in August 2016, as per her family’s legal claim.

Erik Haas, J&J’s Worldwide Vice President of Litigation, expressed satisfaction with the jury’s verdict, citing it as validation for the company. He stated, “Consistent with decades of scientific research, the jury appropriately found that talc is safe, does not contain asbestos, and does not cause cancer, which is the same outcome the company achieved in 16 of 17 ovarian cases tried to date.”

Leigh O’Dell, representing the Matthey family, acknowledged the jury’s decision but asserted continued determination in future litigation against J&J. She emphasized, “The science supports the association between genital talc use and ovarian cancer, and we will continue to seek justice for the victims of J&J’s neglect and indifference.”

During the trial, evidence presented by Lance Oliver, the attorney for the Matthey family, revealed that Matthey had testified before her demise, expressing how advertisements for baby powder had led her to believe she needed the product to maintain cleanliness and avoid feeling unclean.

The Matthey family’s allegations against J&J included claims that the company had been aware for decades of potential contamination of its talc products with carcinogenic asbestos fibers. Furthermore, they accused J&J of suppressing scientific evidence linking talc to increased cancer risks.

J&J refuted these claims, arguing that there was no conspiracy to suppress research and that scientific evidence did not substantiate the allegations. Morty Dubin, J&J’s attorney, emphasized during the trial that the case was fundamentally about science.

Currently, J&J faces over 50,000 lawsuits related to talc, the majority concerning women with ovarian cancer, and a minority involving individuals with mesothelioma, a cancer caused by asbestos exposure. Despite previous attempts, the company’s efforts to settle the talc litigation through bankruptcy have been unsuccessful.

Haas indicated that J&J is considering a third bankruptcy filing and is actively seeking support for a settlement among the plaintiffs. In the meantime, the company plans to continue defending against what it perceives as baseless talc claims in the legal system.

While J&J’s bankruptcy strategy temporarily halted talc litigation, trials have resumed following the dismissal of the latest bankruptcy case. Past trials have yielded varied outcomes, with notable plaintiff victories and appellate decisions overturning substantial verdicts against the company.

Although J&J has settled some cases involving mesothelioma plaintiffs, details regarding the settlements remain undisclosed.

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