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The Call is Coming from the Basement

Earlier this month the Food and Drug Administration announced that lab tests had found trace amounts of chrysotile asbestos fibers in a bottle of Johnson & Johnson’s talc baby powder. J&J issued a recall of 33,000 bottles of baby powder in response but has vehemently denied the accuracy of the tests. The samples were contaminated. The baby powder was counterfeit. They were framed!

J&J said it hired outside third-party labs to conduct testing of the recalled powder as part of their investigation. They say those tests came back negative for the presence of asbestos. Upon further investigation Johnson & Johnson says that the air conditioning unit in the auxiliary room where testing was performed was contaminated with asbestos. What are the chances!

In another bizarre twist, the Maryland lab that discovered the asbestos contamination in the baby powder happens to be run by an expert J&J has hired to testify on their behalf in asbestos litigation cases. Andreas Saldivar had been hired by J&J as a defense expert in 20 to 30 asbestos cases in 2017 alone.

J&J is in a difficult position. By denying the accuracy of Saldivar’s lab tests, they are calling into question the credibility of their own experts.

“This positive test turns up the heat on J&J,” said Nora Freeman Engstrom, a Stanford University law professor who studies complex litigation. “And their expert lit the match.”

Reuter’s Exclusive: J&J's own expert, working for FDA, found asbestos in Baby Powder

Just hours after the baby powder recall was announced on October 18, a plaintiff lawyer representing a 71-year-old woman at trial requested that the judge allow him to share news of the recall with jurors. J&J objected but the judge agreed to his request. Within days a settlement was reached between plaintiffs and counsel for J&J.

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