Mesothelioma is a disease that is well known to be caused by exposure to asbestos, but despite this attorneys for consumer giant Johnson & Johnson are arguing that four people definitively diagnosed with the disease have no evidence of exposure to the carcinogenic material.
Each of the four has been diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma, a form of the disease that forms in the abdominal cavity. They have collectively filed a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson, accusing the company of responsibility for the harm they suffered as a result of exposure to its product. They are seeking compensation for damages including their medical expenses and their pain and suffering.
Johnson & Johnson Faces Thousands of Asbestos Exposure Lawsuits
The four victims are not the first to accuse Johnson & Johnson’s products of containing asbestos. There are over 14,000 pending claims against the company, each alleging that asbestos exposure from the company’s talc-based products has led to a diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma or ovarian cancer. The four plaintiffs in the New Jersey case are 65-year-old Douglas Barden, 57-year-old David Etheridge, 41-year-old D’Angela McNeill-George and 46-year-old Will Ronning, all of whom point to their exposure to the carcinogen through the use of the product when they were babies.
Though Johnson & Johnson is arguing that peritoneal mesothelioma is not caused by asbestos exposure, this defense runs counter to the position of many researchers. The company claims that peritoneal mesothelioma only occurs in those who have extensive asbestos exposure rather than the trace amounts that the plaintiffs claim existed in the company’s baby powder. By contrast, the plaintiffs are arguing that breathing in or ingesting asbestos during infancy is far more dangerous, as the cells are still rapidly dividing and because infants breathe faster and are more susceptible to swallowing particles in the air.