Published : Wednesday, October 23, 2019 | 6:30 PM
A jury trial sparked by a Pasadena woman who claims that her terminal cancer was caused through exposure to a talcum powder marketed by pharmaceutical and consumer goods giant Johnson and Johnson began Tuesday.
Plaintiffs in the Los Angeles Superior Court proceeding are 48-year old Pui “Amy” Fong, and her husband, who sued Johnson and Johnson, its consumer division and several companies that supply the talc, alleging the product is defective and unsafe, and that the company was aware of asbestos in its talc, but failed to warn the public.
Exposure to the product, plaintiffs said, is responsible for Fong’s terminal cancer diagnosis of mesothelioma.
“There’s been over, well over 50 bottles, historical bottles of Johnson and Johnson, baby powder that’s been tested by experts and have found asbestos and asbestos fibers in it,” the Fongs’ attorney, Joe Satterley, said in his opening statement before the jury. “This is a needless cancer, preventable. If you’re not exposed to asbestos, you don’t develop mesothelioma.”
Johnson and Johnson attorneys disputed the claim.
Kimberly Olvey Branscome said the company will show proof of years of testing that showed Johnson’s Baby Powder is safe and of the highest quality talc.
“The evidence will show that hundreds of millions of people have used Johnson’s baby powder, and yet out of the 325 million people in the United States, mesothelioma is still an incredibly rare disease,” Branscome said.
The cosmetics manufacturer has faced other court battles over the past few years from allegations their talcum powder caused cancer.
In 2017, a jury ordered Johnson and Johnson to pay more than $4 billion in damages to a group of women who claimed its products led to their contracting ovarian cancer.
In March, a California court ordered Johnson and Johnson to pay a woman $29 million in a similar case where she claimed the company’s products had contributed to her mesothelioma.
Last week, Johnson and Johnson announced it was recalling one lot of its baby powder after FDA testing found trace levels of asbestos contamination in samples from a single bottle purchased online.
The company said 33,000 bottles of talcum powder will be recalled “out of an abundance of caution.”