New Evidence in Talc Lawsuits Huge Benefit For Plaintiffs
As an infant and child, Darlene Coker’s mother dusted her with Johnson & Johnson baby powder after a bath or diaper change. As Darlene got older, she kept up the habit, regularly using the talcum powder as part of her feminine hygiene routine. Now, at the age of 52, Darlene is fighting a losing battle for her life. Why? She believes that Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder is to blame.
In 1997, Darlene Coker was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer. This particular type of cancer usually affects individuals who’ve spent their life working around asbestos, usually in mines or on ships. How could a 52-year-old woman from Texas, who’s never spent a day in a mine or working on a ship, have developed such a rare and deadly disease?
Studies have revealed that Johnson & Johnson’s talc products, including those used by Darlene Coker and her mother, have been contaminated with asbestos particles. In fact, there’s even evidence to suggest that Johnson & Johnson’s own research revealed this fact way back in the 1970s. However, despite knowing that its baby powder contained traces of asbestos, the company looked the other way and marketed its product, anyway.
Darlene was never told that she might be exposed to asbestos by using Johnson & Johnson talc products. She was never given the opportunity to decide if that was a risk she wanted to take. She died in 2009 at the age of 63. She was a mother of two and a doting grandmother. Unfortunately, she never learned why she was diagnosed with mesothelioma.
State Laws Protect Consumers Who Are Injured By Defective or Dangerous Products
Coker lived in Texas when she used Johnson & Johnson talc powder. She lived in Texas when she was diagnosed with mesothelioma. Under Texas state law, she had the right to file a product liability lawsuit against the company (or companies) responsible for designing, manufacturing, producing, and/or selling a defective product.
In Texas, a company like Johnson & Johnson is free to market and sell products. However, since there’s very little oversight, companies are responsible for making sure the products they sell to consumers in the state are safe. It was Johnson & Johnson’s duty to ensure that its talc products were safe or, at the very least, warn consumers about potential risks. Johnson & Johnson did neither of these things.
When consumers get hurt because of actions like these, consumers like Coker can assert protections provided under state law. In Texas, companies can be strictly liable if consumers get hurt while using a product as intended. This means that consumers don’t have to prove that a company was negligent. The fact that they got hurt while using the product as intended – or in a reasonably foreseeable way – is enough to hold a company financially accountable.
In order for a product liability lawsuit to be successful, a plaintiff has to prove:
- They used a product as intended
- They suffered an injury, and
- The product’s defect played a substantial role in causing that injury.
Coker had a difficult time establishing a connection between her mesothelioma diagnosis and her use of Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder. She couldn’t prove that the product was responsible for her injury. As a result, her case was not successful. However, new evidence is changing things for new plaintiffs.
Lawsuits Strengthened With New Bombshell Evidence
Coker, like many others, filed a talc powder lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson. Her case was one of the first to be filed. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until very recently that bombshell evidence – mostly indicating that Johnson & Johnson knew about the asbestos contamination – came to light. This evidence has helped several plaintiffs secure settlements and jury verdicts for millions of dollars.
Coker wasn’t so fortunate. She dropped her case due to a lack of evidence. Her attorney, when reached for comment about the new evidence, said that Johnson & Johnson “knew what the problems were, and they hid it.” He continued, saying that the new evidence would have made a “100% difference” in the outcome of Coker’s talc powder lawsuit.