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Late yesterday, a St. Louis jury awarded $70 million in damages against Johnson & Johnnson and Imerys Talc America for failing to warn about the ovarian cancer risk with talc powder, marking the third massive verdict over the products in a row.
The verdict follows an earlier award of $72 million returned by a separate jury in February 2016, involving a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the family of Jackie Fox; and a $55 million verdict in May 2016, involving an ovarian cancer lawsuit brought by Gloria Ristesund.
This latest case was brought by Deborah Giannecchini, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012 following years of using talc powder for “feminine hygiene”. After considering evidence presented during a three-week trial, the jury found that a massive verdict is necessary due to the failure to warn women about the link between ovarian cancer and talcum powder.
The jury ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $2.5 million for compensatory damages, and another $65 million in punitive damages, which are designed to punish the manufacturer for their reckless actions. Imerys Talc America, which is a supplier included as a co-defendant in the case, was ordered to pay $2.5 million in compensatory damages as well. While each of the two prior massive verdicts against Johnson & Johnson also included punitive damages, this award is the first time that a jury has ordered Imerys to pay damages.
Johnson & Johnson has vowed to appeal all three verdicts against it.
Ovarian Cancer Lawsuits Over Talc Powder
Although talc powder is most commonly associated with use among infants to prevent diaper rash and maintain smooth skin, the products are widely used among adult women and Johnson & Johnson has promoted such use to maintain “personal freshness.” Given the popularity of Johnson’s Baby Powder among adult women, the company introduced and marketed Shower-to-Shower body powder for this specific purpose.
There are more than 2,000 additional Johnson’s Baby Powder lawsuits and Shower-to-Shower lawsuits filed in state and federal courts nationwide. All of the cases have been filed by women, or the family members of women who died of ovarian cancer, who claim that Johnson & Johnson failed to adequately warn women that use of talcum powder on the genitals could increase the risk of ovarian cancer.
Earlier this month, a panel of federal judges ordered all talcum powder lawsuits filed at the federal level be consolidated before one judge for pretrial proceedings in New Jersey, where District Judge Freda Wolfson will preside over coordinated discovery and bellwether trials.
As talcum powder cancer lawyers continue to review and file cases over the coming months and years, it is ultimately expected the number of complaints pending nationwide will continue to grow.
If talcum powder cancer settlements are not reached by Johnson & Johnson following bellwether trials or the coordinated proceedings in the federal MDL, it is possible that large numbers of cases may be remanded back to U.S. District Courts nationwide for individual trial dates.