Johnson & Johnson must pay $4.14 billion in punitive damages to women who claimed asbestos in the company’s talc products caused them to develop ovarian cancer. The jury earlier ordered the company to pay them $550 million in compensatory damages. This brings the total to almost $4.7 billion. Also, this amount is a record for the largest jury award in the U.S. in 2018. Plus, it is the sixth-largest jury verdict in a product-defect claim in U.S. history.
Facts about Talcum Powder
A 2013 Journal of Cancer Prevention Research study showed that women who dusted their groin area with talcum powder had a 20-30% increased risk of developing ovarian cancer than women who did not use talc products. Manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson knew of these risks and still have failed to warn consumers of the danger of talc powder. They continue to market its baby powder as a safe product for use in infants and women despite this growing body of evidence linking it to ovarian cancer.
During the court case of the Estate of Jacqueline Fox v. Johnson & Johnson, internal company memos from Johnson & Johnson medical consultants surfaced. The 1997 memo stated “anyone who denies [the] risks between hygienic talc use and ovarian cancer would be publicly perceived in the same light as those who denied a link between smoking cigarettes and cancer. Denying the obvious in the face of all evidence to the contrary.”
Talc Damages Linked to Ovarian Cancer
Five other trials questioned the link between talc and ovarian cancer. In 2007, doctors diagnosed Plaintiff Eva Echeverria with ovarian cancer. She had used Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder and shower products twice a day for over 40 years. In all cases, the jury found that Johnson & Johnson had decades of knowledge linking talcum powder to ovarian cancer. Yet, they did not warn consumers. During many trials, internal documents surfaced, which show Johnson & Johnson acknowledged there are safer alternatives to their products. There were also warnings from the company’s own lobbyists. They told the company of numerous studies showing a link between genital use and ovarian cancer.
Previously, a St. Louis jury awarded $110.5 million to a Virginia woman with ovarian cancer. Three other St. Louis juries came to similar conclusions. They awarded $300 million to other plaintiffs.
On July 12, 2018, a jury reached a unanimous verdict to award compensatory damages for 22 plaintiffs. This averaged to $25 million per plaintiff. However, the jury needed to deliberate on punitive damages. It took eight hours, but the jurors awarded the women $550 million in compensatory damages and another $4.14 billion in punitive damages. The main issue in this case as the previous ones is that the pharmaceutical giant sold powder products knowing they were contaminated with asbestos. Researchers have linked asbestos to Mesothelioma. This is cancer in the lining of the lungs.
If you or someone you know has suffered an adverse event after using talcum powder, you may be eligible for compensation to ease the financial and emotional burdens you are experiencing. Contact us today to set up a free consultation, during which we will listen to your story, answer any questions you may have and discuss your legal rights and options. If you choose us to represent you, we will work with you on a contingency fee basis; this means you pay nothing until we have secured compensation for you, either through a jury verdict or settlement.