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Cornell Student Articles on Topical Affairs

Skincare Giant Johnson & Johnson Continues To Battle Lawsuits

It is the ongoing legal saga that has captured the attention and the concern of the entire world. Skincare giant Johnson & Johnson is currently under criminal investigation for “concealing cancer risks of baby powder” – one of its top-selling products. The federal authorities launched a criminal investigation into if the company did lie to its clients and the public about the possible cancer risks of the talcum powder the company is renowned for. A grand jury in Washington is currently overlooking the federal investigation, primarily utilizing documents that highlight whether the industry giant was, in fact, aware that its talcum powder products – including its baby powder – contained carcinogens. There have been over 13,000 lawsuits filed against the company on the grounds of the (understandable and even rightful belief) that the exposure to the products resulted in their mesothelioma diagnoses (cancer that is caused by exposure to asbestos).

The skincare empire has long been a dominant player in its industry. Still, in the last ten years or so (and even longer), it has found itself in the hot seat, as it was discovered that the company found asbestos traces in one of its most popular products, baby powder, in 1971. Alas, this was not made public knowledge, to the point that when this was made public knowledge, the law industry suddenly found itself dealing with an influx of queries regarding individuals who were seeking legal representation to sue the company for health issues that, prior to the information being made public, they were shocked to experience, but unsure why they were experiencing them. With 13,000 lawsuits and climbing pointed at the company, and more and more cases and evidence is found that point to the company being in the wrong, Johnson & Johnson is in the legal battle of its lifetime – and if the company cannot right the ship, it could (and likely will) prove to be the battle that ends an era in skincare.

Disturbingly, the hundreds, even thousands, of individuals who have taken out a Mesothelioma cancer lawsuit against the skincare giant are in highly impactful, and even sometimes fatal, circumstances, as a result of the products they used from the company being contaminated with asbestos. These lawsuits are ongoing, with some (if not all) taking months, even years, to be carried through the court system from point A to point B. Earlier this year, a California woman was awarded $29 million in damages when she took her case to the courts. She is just one of tens of thousands of individuals who have brought their case to the courts. Even now, the company claims ignorance and not negligence (among other traits) has led to this horrific era in the company’s history. However, that is understandably not good enough for the people who have had their lives turned upside down thanks to the company that they trusted with their skin and, ultimately, their health and wellbeing.

This is one of the largest and longest ongoing legal sagas against a skincare company in history. It could well be the most long-standing legal saga against such a company in history. The realization that people’s quality of life is being negatively impacted, and even taken away entirely after a long and painful battle, is brutal enough in any case. The understanding that a multi-billion-dollar empire may have knowingly caused that reality to come to fruition over decades, to hundreds of thousands of people all around the globe, is too shocking for words. This is a law and federal investigation that is ongoing, and that has proven to be devastating in so many ways, that it is challenging to understand them all below the general surface area. An ongoing legal saga that is changing the lives of people in all the worst ways imaginable is far from over. Watch this space.

There are many instances where big-name brands are taken to court from their clients for multiple reasons. One of the most recent – and ongoing – of those instances involves the skincare empire Johnson & Johnson. This is a company that, despite being a beloved household name, has found itself as the accused in more than 13,000 lawsuits surrounding asbestos exposure and mesothelioma cases. While the company continues to maintain that not only were they unaware (despite some damning evidence that they were), but their talcum products contain a harmless amount of asbestos traces. While there is no definitive way to tell which direction this saga is set to go next, it is almost certain that it is not going to be a positive one. Johnson & Johnson has been lucky enough to have a long-standing reign over the skincare industry. Still, those days could well be coming to a close in the near future if the company is unable to rectify its wrongs (if that were even possible) and right the ship.

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