Court Denies Johnson & Johnson’s Appeal, Must Pay Mesothelioma Victim $29 Million

Late last week, Johnson & Johnson was handed another defeat in its attempt to evade responsibility for mesothelioma and ovarian cancer caused by its iconic talc-based baby powder. Though the company appealed a California jury’s award of $29 million to a 55-year-old mesothelioma victim, the appellate court denied their motion and ordered the company to pay her the damages she was owed.

Thirty Years of Baby Powder Use Led to Malignant Mesothelioma

The original claim against Johnson & Johnson’s was filed by Teresa Elizabeth Leavitt, who was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma at the age of 51. She claimed that her mother had used the product on her for diaper changes and after baths from the time of her birth in the Philippines in 1966. She continued using the product after baths when she moved to the United States in 1968, and as a teen she used it as a face powder and a dry shampoo. She did not stop using the product until approximately 1998, and twenty years later in 2017 she was diagnosed with the rare, asbestos-related form of cancer.

Hearing her testimony, a jury assigned 98% responsibility for her mesothelioma to Johnson & Johnson and ordered the company to pay her $29.4 million in compensatory damages. The company appealed the decision, arguing that testimony provided by a materials scientist who said he found asbestos in samples of the product should not have been allowed.

Judge Denies Objections to Expert Witness Testimony in Mesothelioma Case

In handing down the appellate court’s decision in the mesothelioma lawsuit, Justice Gordon B. Burns wrote that there was nothing in Dr. William Longo’s testimony about the baby powder that he tested that would have changed the outcome of the trial. Dr. Longo had testified that he tested samples from both current and vintage bottles of the product and that he’d found asbestos in both. The company had argued that they could only be found responsible if samples from the actual bottles that the victim had use were tested and found positive for asbestos. The judges rejected this argument as not in keeping with the rules of evidence.

Exposure to asbestos causes malignant mesothelioma and has caused untold heartache and suffering. If you or someone you love has experienced this type of harm, the Patient Advocates at can get you the resources that you need to find justice. Contact us today at 1-800-692-8608.

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer is the head writer of our news blog. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Terri believes that knowledge is power and she is committed to sharing news about the impact of mesothelioma, the latest research and medical breakthroughs, and victims’ stories.

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