A Hawaii Island woman with a rare form of cancer is suing Johnson & Johnson and Foodland Super Market Ltd. for selling talc-based baby powder she claims was contaminated with asbestos.
Jacqueline Becker, who was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma in February, filed the complaint in First Circuit Court today, alleging the disease was caused by her regular use of Johnson & Johnson’s tainted talcum powder. Exposure to asbestos is the only known cause of that type of cancer.
Becker moved to Hawaii from Australia in 1991 and said she used Johnson & Johnson baby powder for decades on herself and her horses as an avid equestrian and show rider.
Asbestos can cause mesothelioma as well as cancers in the lungs, larynx and ovaries, and fibrosis of the lungs, according to the World Health Organization. In July, the U.S. Justice Department began a criminal investigation into whether or not the retail giant “misled the public about asbestos fibers in its talcum powder,” a news release said. Three months later, Johnson & Johnson voluntarily recalled 33,000 baby powders after asbestos was discovered by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
“Johnson & Johnson’s own internal testing showed as early as the 1950s that the talcum powder it marketed to women and children was contaminated with asbestos,” said Ilana Waxman, managing partner of Galiher DeRobertis & Waxman, in the release. “The company had a responsibility to warn the public, but they failed to do so and now thousands of people are sick.”