Johnson & Johnson headed back to court this week to fight another lawsuit from a woman who developed cancer after years of using J&J’s talcum powder. Ring of Fire’s Mike Papantonio and Farron Cousins discuss this.

Learn more about talcum powder dangers here.


Mike Papantonio: Johnson & Johnson headed back to court this week to fight another lawsuit from a woman who developed cancer after years of using Johnson & Johnson baby powder. This story just continues getting crazier. The last verdict that was taking place was in New Jersey?

Farron Cousins: I believe so, yes.

Mike Papantonio: They come back with a multi-million dollar verdict against Johnson & Johnson. The interesting thing about it is Johnson & Johnson has lied and told the American public, “We don’t have asbestos in our baby powder.” And now the lawyers that are trying these cases, not only are they showing the jury here’s the asbestos fiber. They bring in scientists. They do a scope, the material, and they’re able to show the asbestos fiber right there. Amosite, chrysotile asbestos. It’s right there. And so years and years the company’s been saying, “Oh, you don’t have to worry about asbestos.” Now, women are dying from cervical cancer because they used this Johnson & Johnson baby power their entire lifetime, and they’re dying from mesothelioma.

Farron Cousins: Right, and this woman in this particular lawsuit that began on Monday of this week, she died from a very rare form of cancer they said at age 30.

Mike Papantonio: Yeah.

Farron Cousins: Cancers that usually take-

Mike Papantonio: Mesothelioma takes-

Farron Cousins: … decades. Yeah, decades.

Mike Papantonio: … three to four years, yeah.

Farron Cousins: But she had used baby powder all her life, so she’s dead at age 30 because of Johnson & Johnson. What’s interesting about this case too and at first I didn’t agree with it, but the more I remembered about this case, ’cause you and I have spoken about this.

Mike Papantonio: Yeah, you wrote an article.

Farron Cousins: We’ve seen the documents, yeah. They brought in … another one of the defendants is Rite Aid, the pharmacy.

Mike Papantonio: Right.

Farron Cousins: And so at first I thought well you can’t necessarily hold them accountable for it, but then I remembered the marketing materials. Johnson & Johnson worked with the pharmacies to create these big display ads.

Mike Papantonio: Yes.

Farron Cousins: The pharmacies were complicit with it to make sure that they pushed this talcum powder especially in low income communities. They would go to areas with higher populations of African-American and Hispanic women and market it to them.

Mike Papantonio: The major, that’s their major marketing source.

Farron Cousins: Right.

Mike Papantonio: It’s a cultural issue. A lot of these children grow up with the parent putting baby powder all over them and they’re told, “Well, you got to do this all your life. This will make you smell better. This is good hygiene.” And they’re told there’s harm in that. The whole time that they were doing that with Johnson & Johnson talc powder, it had asbestos in it.

I mean, it’s like … Look, where do they get the talc? They get out of mines. They’ve looked at the mines where they get the talc. There’s asbestos all over the talc mines. And so all of a sudden it’s another deal where we keep … Johnson & Johnson keeps telling this lie and they’ve been hit for 78 million, 75 million, 117 million.

Farron Cousins: Right. What has it been? Five verdicts so far?

Mike Papantonio: Yeah.

Farron Cousins: And hundreds of millions in total that they’ve paid out ’cause they’ve lost every single case ’cause they’re lying?

Mike Papantonio: What tells you that is those are different juries, you see.

Farron Cousins: Yeah.

Mike Papantonio: Those are different juries that hear the facts. They see the documents.

Farron Cousins: They see the fiber.

Mike Papantonio: They see the fiber. There it is right on the [inaudible 00:03:16].

Farron Cousins: Because, yeah, that’s another thing people have to understand. They do, they’re literally taking the fibers out of these cancer tumors …

Mike Papantonio: Yes.

Farron Cousins: … and they can examine it and see this-

Mike Papantonio: They found it in the tumor.

Farron Cousins: Right …

Mike Papantonio: They all-

Farron Cousins: … and it stays in there.

Mike Papantonio: Yes, and they also find it in actually in the powder. Well I got to tell you, we’re used to that. We’re used to these denials that we see from these companies all the time, but it always ends badly. This is a big problem. Johnson & Johnson better figure out how to deal with this ’cause their stock is going to start crashing.

A case being tried in South Carolina right now. If he comes back with another one, and then a friend of mine is trying another one down in East St. Louis I think in June or July. This just snowballs. The problem is you’ve got defense firms that are telling them, “Oh, we can win.”

Farron Cousins: Yeah.

Mike Papantonio: Well the defense firms are being paid a gazillion. These defense firms, no exaggeration, are being paid $7-10 million every time they go to trial. So they don’t have any reason to tell Johnson & Johnson, “You’ve got a runaway train here, buddy. You better deal with this.” ‘Cause they’re silk stocking law firms. They’re in towers, 50-60-story towers that they own filled up with uptight, right-wing silk stocking defense, corporate defense firms, and so they’re telling the company, “Yeah, we think we can win.” Well I think the votes are in right now.

The company that was hired to provide intelligence on the Dakota Access Pipeline protestors is trying to weasel their out of a lawsuit that accuses them of operating without a license in North Dakota. You found the story. I did a segment on it with Ed Schultz the other night. Tell me, what’s your take on this case?

Farron Cousins: What’s so fun about this is that TigerSwan is basically they’re a private mercenary company, not unlike Blackwater. Most of their contracts are for work over in the Middle East, mercenary work, security work allegedly. But so you had Energy Transfer Partners, the owner of Dakota Access Pipeline, who hired them from North Carolina to go find everything you can out about these protesters. Help us with intimidation. Help us with background checks. If one of them has a criminal record we can use that against them.

So every day while this TigerSwan was hired by ETF, they would send their little drones or whatever to take photos of the encampments. They would put together daily intelligence briefings for ETF and now that they’re being accused of operating illegally in North Carolina their defense is we never went to North Dakota. We never went there so we can’t be accused of operating there ’cause we did all our stuff from back here. But there’s photos the Intercept has that shows you were in North Dakota.

Mike Papantonio: Right. Intercept did a wonderful story as usual. Intercept they did it again. They’re a great source of real information. Corporate media hates The Intercept ’cause Intercept tells stories that corporate media can’t tell.

Farron Cousins: Right.

Mike Papantonio: But on this particular situation, they also did a great background on this company. It’s Blackwater. Basically they’re corporate mercenaries hired by the government. This is what’s so interesting. Initially hired by the government to push back on terrorism. To do counter terrorism work. Now, that’s just not surveillance. That’s hand on spook work that this company … here they are on American soil. American soil, using those same techniques with American citizens that are out there protesting saying, “We don’t want your damn pipeline on our property.”

Farron Cousins: And they admitted in the documents that The Intercept got that they are treating these people like terrorists. They said they’re on this jihad. They’re akin to ISIS. People who didn’t want this pipeline going through sacred Native American lands and poisoning aquifers. They’re jihadis in the eyes of TigerSwan.

But what’s also interesting … I know we only have a few seconds here, but TigerSwan’s info that they gathered on the protesters, ETF is trying to use that in a lawsuit against the protestors so that’s why TigerSwan wants this other illegal operation suit to go away. ‘Cause if they’re found to have operated illegally, all that alleged evidence they gathered, is getting tossed out by the court.

Mike Papantonio: The big lawsuit is against the company that hired TigerSwan and TigerSwan for the rubber bullets, the gas, the injuries that they did to these protesters. They had no license to do it in the state of North Dakota.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.