On February 22, 2016, a Missouri jury awarded $72 million to the estate of a woman who claimed that the ovarian cancer that caused her death in 2015 was as a result of the Johnson & Johnson talcum powder-based products that she used on a daily basis for many years. The St. Louis, Missouri jury determined that the plaintiff was entitled to $10 million in compensatory damages as well as $62 million in punitive damages against Johnson & Johnson.
The Missouri talcum powder lawsuit was the first state lawsuit to have gone to trial against Johnson & Johnson regarding its products that contain talcum powder. A federal case in 2013 resulted in a verdict in favor of the plaintiff who claimed that a Johnson & Johnson talc product contributed to her developing ovarian cancer but the federal jury declined to award damages to the plaintiff in that case.
The Missouri woman’s product liability lawsuit alleged that she used Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder as well as another talcum powder-based product for years, and that Johnson & Johnson had known for decades that talc-based products may cause cancer yet failed to warn consumers regarding the risk. The Missouri jury held Johnson & Johnson accountable for its failure to warn of the cancer risk associated with the talcum powder in its products: the jury forewoman stated after the verdict, “It was really clear that they were hiding something. All they had to do was put a warning label on.”
Johnson & Johnson argued to the jury that the plaintiff had failed to prove that its talcum powder-based products directly caused or contributed to the plaintiff developing ovarian cancer, contending that the evidence was clear that the cause of the plaintiff’s ovarian cancer was unknown.
A spokesperson for Johnson & Johnson stated on its behalf after the Missouri jury rendered its verdict, “We have no higher responsibility than the health and safety of consumers and we are disappointed with the outcome of the trial. We sympathize with the plaintiff’s family but firmly believe the safety of cosmetic talc is supported by decades of scientific evidence.” (Nonetheless, cornstarch has been substituted for talcum powder in many consumer products.)
The Missouri jury considered as “decisive” the internal documents from Johnson & Johnson that were admitted into evidence during the trial. The jury deliberated for only four hours before reaching its verdict.
Johnson & Johnson faces approximately 1,200 product liability lawsuits in which the plaintiffs allege that Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower products that contain talc are linked to ovarian cancer, that Johnson & Johnson knew about the cancer risk associated with talcum powder, and despite such knowledge, it failed to warn consumers. There is a lot at stake for Johnson & Johnson in the talcum powder lawsuits: about 19% of U.S. households use Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder brand of baby powder.
If you or a loved one were injured as a result of a personal hygiene consumer product in the United States, you should promptly consult with a product liability lawyer in your state who may investigate your defective product claim for you and represent you in a claim against the manufacturer of an unreasonably dangerous consumer product, if appropriate.
Click here to visit our website to be connected with product liability claim attorneys in your state who may assist you, or telephone us toll-free in the United States at 800-295-3959.
Turn to us when you don’t know where to turn.