A California jury on Wednesday cleared Johnson & Johnson of charges that the company’s talcum powder gave a woman mesothelioma. The verdict was granted in a retrial of claims over which a mistrial was declared in September of 2018.
60-year-old Carolyn Weirick and her wife Elvira Escudero claimed that Weirick’s mesothelioma was caused by the a defective presence of asbestos in J&J’s talc, and that the company knew of the presence of asbestos. Weirick was exposed to J&J talcum powder as an infant, and applied it to herself daily from the time she was 13 until she was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2016.
Weirick’s lawyer, Jay Steumke, said that the presence of asbestos was proven by internal tests at J&J as well as by outside scientific literature and Weirick’s own hired experts. He asked the jury to award Weirick $44,000-per-week for an estimated 20-plus years of life that she would lose as a result of her illness, as well as punitive damages.
John Ewald, the lawyer for J&J, argued that Steumke had concealed parts of the expert study to fit with his claim that J&J talc, without qualification, contained asbestos. In reality, argued Ewald, the study had only found “regulated asbestos,” a term which refers to microscopic fibers matching the shape and size of asbestos, not asbestos itself.
Additional trials over J&J’s talcum powder have occurred in other states. The day before Wednesday’s verdict, a Georgia jury was unable to reach a verdict and a mistrial was declared.