Talc mesothelioma case in South Carolina ends in mistrial for Johnson & Johnson

Right on the heels of a legal defeat for Johnson & Johnson in California, a jury in South Carolina has failed to reach a decision in a case alleging the company's talc baby powder can cause mesothelioma.

Jurors in South Carolina couldn't reach a unanimous decision in the case of Bertila Boyd-Bostic, who passed away last year at age 30 from the cancer, according to Reuters.

Johnson & Johnson representatives said the company is disappointed the jury didn't reach a decision in its favor, while attorneys for the plaintiffs said they intend retry the case as soon as possible, the news service reports.

The mistrial in South Carolina came the same week a jury in Los Angeles ordered J&J to pay $25.75 million in the mesothelioma case of Joanne Anderson. Before that, a jury in New Jersey awarded a $117 million verdict in a case brought by Stephen Lanzo. J&J prevailed in an earlier Los Angeles case alleging a link.

The drugmaker has been battling claims its storied talcum powder can cause ovarian cancer for years, and plaintiffs have increasingly filed lawsuits alleging a link to mesothelioma.

Johnson & Johnson has denied its talc contains asbestos based on "multiple independent, non-litigation-driven scientific evaluations." But in various cases, plaintiffs' attorneys have presented old documents showing asbestos appeared in some tests and that J&J employees debated internally about the issue.

In all, J&J faces about 9,100 talc lawsuits as of its last quarterly filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. In previous ovarian cancer cases, the company has won in New Jersey and St. Louis, and has managed to get verdicts of $417 million and $72 million thrown out on appeal. The company is in the process of appealing ovarian cancer losses of $55 million, $70 million and $110 million.

May 29, 2018


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