Imerys SA, which supplies talc to Johnson & Johnson, isn't taking chances as another jury weighs whether to sock the health care giant with a punishing verdict.
A unit of Imerys agreed to settle its part of a California woman's lawsuit blaming both companies for causing her cancer with asbestos-tainted talc. The deal was reached just before the case was set to go to a state-court jury in Pasadena after a four-week trial.
The terms of the settlement weren't disclosed when the judge announced the deal Monday. In July, a St. Louis jury ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $4.69 billion in damages to 22 women who blamed their ovarian cancer on exposure to asbestos in the company's powders. That was the sixth-largest product-defect verdict in U.S. history. A few days before that trial, Imerys reached a confidential settlement that people familiar with the accord said included a payment of at least $5 million.
Imerys didn't settle a previous case over alleged exposure to asbestos-laced talc; it resulted in April in a $117 million verdict in New Jersey against Johnson & Johnson and Imerys, of which the Paris-based mining company was responsible for 30 percent.
In the Pasadena case, Carolyn Weirick alleged that talc provided by Imerys to Johnson & Johnson for its baby powder and other products caused her mesothelioma, a cancer linked to asbestos exposure.
The world's largest health care-products maker faces more than 10,000 other lawsuits claiming its baby powder caused cancer. The St. Louis verdict is under appeal.
Imerys wouldn't comment Monday on why it decided to settle the Pasadena case just before company lawyers were scheduled to give closing arguments to jurors.
"Imerys Talc America is committed to the quality and safety of its products, as evidenced by our quality testing results that consistently show no asbestos," the company said in a statement.
Carol Goodrich, a Johnson & Johnson spokesman, didn't immediately respond to an email seeking comment on Imerys' decision to settle.
Johnson & Johnson's lawyers asked Judge Margaret Oldendorf to grant a mistrial after they learned that Imerys had decided to settle. Oldendorf refused the request and will allow jurors to weigh claims against Johnson & Johnson.
Weirick, 59, is a school counselor who said she's been using Johnson & Johnson's talc products, such as baby powder and its former Shower-to-Shower line, for more than 40 years. She was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2017 and said her only exposure to asbestos came from use of talc products.
Business on 09/18/2018
Print Headline: Talc supplier settles in California suit