Individuals in Washington, D.C. who use Johnson & Johnson baby powder might have been exposed to serious risks by using the company’s talc-based baby powder. The company, which produces a wide range of household products, is currently being sued by the state of New Mexico for misleading consumers about the safety of its baby powder and other talc-based products. If true, the allegations could have a serious impact on Washington, D.C. consumers who use the company’s products.
The lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson accuses them of concealing the dangers of their talc-based products, which allegedly contain carcinogenic asbestos. According to a major news report covering the suit, the products at issue have been associated with certain types of cancer and lung disease. The suit, brought by New Mexico’s Attorney General on behalf of the state, alleges that Johnson & Johnson is continuing to market these products to consumers, despite their dangers. This type of suit is what is commonly called a “failure to warn” case. All companies, regardless of size, are generally required by law to warn consumers about any potential dangers posed by their products. For example, a company producing hairdryers must include a warning about how the product can cause electric shock if dropped in water while turned on, and cigarette companies are required to include warnings about lung cancer on the boxes of their cartons.
Similarly, if talc-based products pose a danger to consumers, Johnson & Johnson has a legal duty to warn consumers of such. If instead of warning consumers, companies conceal information or fail to disclose it, they can be held liable under tort law. These lawsuits are typically high profile and can be very expensive, sometimes resulting in penalties of over one billion dollars.