An Oakland, California jury found that defendants Johnson & Johnson and Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc., the entities responsible for Johnson’s Baby Powder, were negligent, manufactured a defective product, and failed to adequately warn consumers of their talc powder product’s asbestos content and related health hazards. The jury also found that the two defendants acted with with malice and oppression. (Christina Prudencio v. Johnson & Johnson, et al., Alameda County Superior Court Case No. RG20061303).
In 2020, Ms. Prudencio was a 34-year-old preschool teacher who was diagnosed with mesothelioma. She was exposed to asbestos through her and her family’s daily use of Johnson’s Baby Powder, beginning when she was born in 1986 and decades thereafter.
Evidence introduced during this fully-remote trial showed that Johnson & Johnson and Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. knew decades before Ms. Prudencio was born that their Johnson’s Baby Powder talc product contained carcinogenic asbestos, asbestiform fibers, and asbestiform talc. Despite this knowledge, defendants failed to warn about their product’s hazards, chose to not replace talc with a known safer alternative (cornstarch), and created talc-testing protocols that they knew were inaccurate and unreliable, so that they could be sure they wouldn’t find the asbestos they knew was there.
The jury awarded Ms. Prudencio $20,000,000 in damages for her pain and suffering, as well as $6,472,967 in economic damages. The jury also awarded $100,000 in punitive damages against Johnson & Johnson and Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. Shortly after this verdict, Johnson & Johnson moved its asbestos talc liabilities to a newly formed company it owned and then went to bankruptcy court where it could hide from all American juries and from justice.