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Published on June 05, 2024
Beaverton Woman Kyung Lee Awarded $260 Million in Talc-Cancer Lawsuit Against Johnson & JohnsonSource: Austin Kirk, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

A Beaverton woman, Kyung Lee, has been granted a massive compensation package totaling $260 million in her lawsuit against healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson, as per the reports by her attorneys on Monday. According to KOIN, the award comes after Lee was diagnosed with mesothelioma in August 2023—a disease she alleges was directly caused by her lifelong use of the company's talc-based Baby Powder. "For years, Kyung and her family used Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder not having any idea it could lead to a life-ending illness," said Lee’s attorney Ben Adams of Dean Omar Branham Shirley. "Today, Ms. Lee was able to see justice and secure a future for her family after she is gone."

The jury broke down the sum into two parts: $60 million was assigned for compensatory damages and $200 million for punitive damages, as stated by KGW. This lawsuit is among the slew of cases J&J faces over its talc-based products. Notably, the company has faced intense scrutiny and a torrent of litigation following reports suggesting that their Baby Powder and other products contained trace amounts of asbestos, prompting a cascade of lawsuits alleging the company's products were responsible for consumers' ovarian cancer or mesothelioma.

Reacting to pressure and a wave of consumer distrust, many retailers pulled the controversial Baby Powder from their shelves in 2019. Subsequently, J&J discontinued the talc-based product in North America in 2020, and later announced a global reformulation plan in 2022, opting for a cornstarch-based replacement. Despite this, Johnson & Johnson has persisted in denying any malfeasance and continually refutes claims that its talc products cause cancer, as reported by KPTV. This has not stopped the company from pursuing large-scale settlements in the hope of resolving the barrage of lawsuits.

The verdict in Lee's case signals a significant financial repercussion for Johnson & Johnson, which has been leveraging such settlements as a strategy to manage the multifaceted legal challenges it faces. The compensation awarded to Lee not only reflects the jury's take on the individual toll but also may serve as a bellwether for future cases against the pharmaceutical titan.