Johnson & Johnson Goes After Claims of Their Baby Powder Contained Asbestos

  • Johnson & Johnson is accused of concealing the detrimental effects that their baby powder can have on the health of consumers.
  • The company argued that the testing of their baby powder was not done with the use of reliable procedures.

Johnson & Johnson is responsible for the creation of many staples to any baby’s nursery. Everything from tear-free shampoo to the safest diaper creams came from this brand, but it was met with controversy after scientific research suggested that their talc-based baby powder actually contained asbestos. While the research came out a while back, it was recently used in lawsuits against the brand, suggesting that the powder itself causes cancer.

A hearing on Wednesday allowed the company’s lawyers to question the validity of the products’ testing by Dr. William Longo, as well as the procedures involved, according to reports from the Los Angeles Times. Ultimately, Johnson & Jonson is hoping that Longo will be barred from testifying on behalf of the women who are suing the company. The cases are presently being heard in federal court in Trenton, New Jersey.

According to Johnson & Johnson, the doctor and other expert witnesses brought forth for the plaintiffs were using unreliable methods to draw their conclusion. In the event that U.S. District Judge Freda Wolfson chooses to hear out and believe Johnson & Johnson’s argument, it would ultimately change information involved in 12,000 pending cases.

David Logan, a law professor with Roger Williams University, said,

“Many millions of dollars are riding on how the judge comes down on the question of which experts can testify. The plaintiffs have the burden of proving the powders caused cancer. If they can’t offer an expert to tell jurors about that issue, the cases go down the drain.”

There are 14,000 lawsuits presently against Johnson & Johnson, accusing it of concealing the risks of their baby powder’s use for over four decades in an attempt to keep their reputation squeaky clean. These allegations have unfortunately weakened the value of the company’s shares, primarily due to the concerns of investors over talc litigation.

The first trials started three years ago, and there’s been a lot of damage dealt to Johnson & Johnson since then. However, there’s already been many victories by the company over these claims, and there’s a state-court verdict in Missouri that it is appealing.

One of the lawyers for Johnson & Johnson, Allison Brown, stated that the government agencies that are presently investigating reports of asbestos in talc aren’t using Longo’s method. Furthermore, Brown stated that Longo doesn’t test the talc samples himself anymore.

Now, it falls on the judge to decide if the testimony of the experts, including Longo, is based on sound scientific methods and if the information is reliable enough to relay to jurors, according to Carl Tobias. Tobias is a teacher at the University of Richmond Law School in Virginia. Tobias added,

“It can be difficult for judges to ascertain whether the methods expert witnesses employ are sound, because most judges are not trained in scientific methodology.”

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