Defense Verdict for Johnson & Johnson in California Asbestos-Talc Case

CALIFORNIA — On November 14, 2018, before the Honorable Timothy Canning, a Northern California state jury returned a defense verdict in favor of Johnson & Johnson (J&J). The jury found the defendant not liable for the plaintiff Carla Allen’s mesothelioma. The plaintiff initially filed suit earlier this year, pleading both negligence and strict liability causes of action, and alleged that defendants knew its talcum products contained asbestos and were likely hazardous to the health of consumers. The main allegation in this case centered on the use of J&J’s baby powder (baby powder) by both the plaintiff Carla Allen and her mother Mick Allen, and whether the exposure to that product was a substantial factor in causing Carla Allen’s mesothelioma.

This Humboldt County, California jury ultimately returned a defense verdict, finding that any manufacturing defect in the defendant’s product was not a substantial factor in causing the plaintiff’s mesothelioma. In coming to this conclusion, the jury found the following:

  • Carla Allen was exposed to asbestos from the baby powder;
  • There was a manufacturing defect in the baby powder when it left defendant’s possession;
  • The manufacturing defect in the baby powder that plaintiff used was not a substantial factor in causing her mesothelioma;
  • The baby powder used by the plaintiff did not fail to perform as safely as an ordinary consumer would have expected when used (or misused) in an intended/foreseeable way;
  • The baby powder did have potential risks that were known or knowable and generally accepted in the scientific and medical community at the time of manufacture, distribution or sale;
  • Those potential risks did not present a substantial danger to the plaintiff when using (or misusing) the product in an intended/foreseeable way.

The verdict sheet is attached here.