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Johnson & Johnson Faces Criminal Investigation Over Denial of Asbestos Traces in Baby Powder

July 22, 2019 in

Johnson & Johnson, the world’s largest talc product manufacturer, faces a criminal probe by the U.S. Department of Justice concerning the company’s denial that asbestos fibers were found in its talc-containing products. Here, the New York product liability attorneys at Sullivan, Papain, Block, McGrath & Cannavo P.C. discuss the latest events surrounding the federal criminal investigation of Johnson & Johnson and the talcum powder asbestos allegations.

A Criminal Probe Has Begun Over Possibility that Johnson & Johnson Misled Consumers

The U.S. Department of Justice has begun a criminal investigation to determine whether Johnson & Johnson knew about asbestos in its talcum powder products, yet did not disclose the information to the public. The criminal probe follows more than 14,000 lawsuits from cancer patients asserting that the use of J&J talc products led to the development of their cancer, most notably mesothelioma and ovarian cancer. In February 2019, J&J revealed that they had received a subpoena from the U.S. Department of Justice, and it was later revealed that the criminal probe involved a Washington grand jury.  

Johnson & Johnson Officials State The Company is Cooperating in the Investigation

Johnson & Johnson officials have announced that the company is cooperating with the criminal investigation, asserting that decades of safety tests and medical studies have revealed no detection of asbestos fibers in their talc-containing products. J&J spokeswoman Kim Montagnino stated on the matter, “Johnson’s Baby Powder does not contain asbestos or cause cancer, as supported by decades of independent clinical evidence.”

Despite J&J officials’ assertions of innocence, almost a dozen juries have reached the conclusion that J&J failed to warn consumers of the asbestos fibers found in their talc-containing products, in part based upon evidence of internal memos from the 1960’s and 1970’s expressing warnings that J&J’s talc was a “severe health hazard” that could potentially serve as a liability for the company. 

Criminal Investigation Follows Years of Product Liability Litigation Against Johnson & Johnson

In total, more than $5 billion has been awarded by juries to cancer patients who have claimed J&J talc products contributed to the development of their cancer. In addition, J&J has set aside an undisclosed amount of money for talc claims. It is estimated that a potential $15 billion could be awarded in civil settlements, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.

Contact the Team of Product Liability Attorneys at SPBMC

The U.S. Department of Justice’s criminal investigation into J&J’s denial of asbestos fibers in their products coincides with years of litigation against the company surrounding claims that their talc products resulted in cancer in thousands of individuals. If you or a loved one developed mesothelioma, ovarian cancer or another health condition after using Johnson & Johnson’s talc-containing products, contact the product liability attorneys at SPBMC, who can provide you with legal counsel during the ongoing federal investigation.