For the third time this year, a jury in St. Louis has awarded an 8-figure verdict against Johnson & Johnson for failing to warn the public about the dangers that its talcum powder products can lead to ovarian cancer.
- On October 27 the third jury awarded more than $70 million in damages to Deborah Giannecchini, 62, of Modesto, CA, on her claim that her use of baby powder and other Johnson & Johnson talc products over 40 years caused her ovarian cancer. She was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer in 2012 and talc was found in her ovaries.
- In February, a jury awarded $72 million to the family of Jacqueline Fox of Birmingham, AL, who used Johnson’s baby powder for 35 years. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2013 and died last year.
- In May another jury in the same courthouse awarded $55 million to Gloria Ristesund of Sioux Falls, SD. She was diagnosed with cancer in 2011 after using J&J’s talc-based feminine hygiene products for almost 40 years.
Long-known cancer risk
Plaintiff attorney Jim Onder of St. Louis, MO, represented all three women. He argued that studies have shown for 30 years that there is a link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer, but that J&J conspired to hide the truth.
Internal J&J memos showed the company was aware of studies linking talc powder to an increased risk of ovarian cancer for decades, according to Onder.
The Oct. 27 verdict also held Imerys Talc liable. Imerys supplied talc to J&J and placed health warnings on the material safety data sheets for the talc. J&J, however, has never put a health warning on its Baby Powder or Shower to Shower products.
J&J is facing nearly 2,000 lawsuits in Missouri and New Jersey, charging it with failing to warn consumers about the cancer risks:
- Federal Court, New Jersey: The The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) created the new MDL 2738, In Re: Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Products Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation, supervised by US District Judge Freda L. Wolfson in the District of New Jersey. There are 10 actions in 8 districts.
- State Court, New Jersey: The company successfully won dismissal of two cases in New Jersey when Atlantic County Superior Court Judge Nelson Johnson dismissed them in September after excluding two leading scientists from testifying as expert witnesses.
The New Jersey dismissal makes the Giannecchini trial that much more significant, because it would likely make Missouri the preferred forum for newly filed talc cases.