I’ve covered before the cases where Johnson and Johnson have had huge damages awarded against them. This is due to the suggestion that the talc they sell contains asbestos, and that this has increased the risk of users getting cancer as a result.
The science behind this is not well founded, to be ridiculously over generous to the cases put by the lawyers. The problem is that in the states where cases are brought the system is that juries not only decide on the merits of the case. They also set the level of the compensation. It’s hard not to be a little sympathetic to their views. J&J is a big corporation with deep pockets, and many of their customers are struggling to get by. It doesn’t feel good to be supporting the rich and the powerful in a dispute with people who are neither.
But there has to be a limit to this. It is pretty unlikely that talc causes cancer. I’ve already gone over the science in previous posts. And if it becomes a widespread practice to award huge damages against producers of personal care products on the flimsiest of pretexts the result will simply be that nobody will supply the them at all.
As things stand there has been a stampede of cases with 10s of thousands of people seeking compensation. They have finally won one case. But J&J have lost all the previous cases that have reached a conclusion and this still represents a risk to the viability of the company. I still think it more likely that the company’s lawyers will find a way out of paying out. But that is hardly a satisfactory outcome. I’d rather see people setting aside their preconceptions and actually looking at what is really likely to be the risk posed by talc.