Christina Prudencia, a 35-year-old cancer sufferer, who allegedly used Johnson & Johnson’s talcum baby powder for 16 years, was awarded $26.5 million by a jury in Alameda County, California earlier today.
The jury found that J&J ignored evidence and red flags about the risks of asbestos contamination in its talc baby powder, Law360.com reported.
Prudencia’s trial was conducted via Zoom and began on June 15. The plaintiff’s mesothelioma—a tumor of the lining of the lungs and/or other organs—is malignant and her cancer is terminal.
The award Prudencia may receive could be even larger, when later this week, punitive damages are expected to be evaluated.
The jury awarded Prudencia $15 million for future noneconomic damages, including pain and suffering; $5 million for past noneconomic damages; $4.1 million for lost past and future income, $1.57 million for lost household services; and $800,000 for past medical costs, according to counsel for the defense, Law360.com reported.
Prudencia’s attorney, Joseph Satterley, told the jury that J&J disregarded decades of research that demonstrated the possibility that fine talc powder could contain cancer-causing asbestos particulates. Satterley referenced a 1971 company internal memo from a meeting with a researcher who had discovered asbestos crystals in talc.
Satterly informed the jury, “A reasonable company, being told that, would stop, take the product off the marketplace. ‘Let’s study it; let’s look at it; let’s see if there’s really carcinogens in our product.’ That’s what a reasonable company does, he said, per reporting by Law360.com.
Also, Satterly referenced a 1976 incident, in which J&J allegedly successfully lobbied executives at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York to bury findings by researchers affiliated with the academic medical center that had discovered asbestos in talc.
In June 2020, facing over 20,000 talc cancer lawsuits, J&J decided to pull its talc-based products from the North American marketplace.
On her 34th birthday last year, Prudencia, a former master’s degree candidate and preschool teacher, underwent surgery to rid herself of cancer. Due to her illness and physical condition, Prudencia was forced to quit her teaching career.
This is an on-going case; stay tuned for future updates.