A jury awarded a woman over $110 million in Missouri state court on Thursday after finding that Johnson & Johnson's talcum powder-based caused her to develop ovarian cancer. The woman had been using the company's talcum powder-based products on her genitals for decades. According to the Courtroom View Network, the verdict is the biggest one yet after five similar previous trials in the state.
The 62-year-old plaintiff alleged that Johnson & Johnson failed to disclose the cancer risk that its baby powder and Shower to Shower products posed to consumers. After she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012, she brought the company to court to show that it concealed the possibility that talc in those products could cause cancers like the one she developed.
The trial began with opening statements back on April 11. The cancer has since spread to her liver, and the trial was actually speeded up because of her declining health. At the close of the trial, jurors deliberated for just over an day.
In the end, they decided to award the plaintiff $5.4 million to compensate her for her damages and additional $105 million in punitive damages. Besides finding fault with Johnson & Johnson, the jury also found that the company's talc supplier, Imerys Talc America, was one percent responsible. That translates to $50,000 of the punitive portion of the verdict.
After the verdict, the plaintiff's lawyer said, "Once again we've shown that these companies ignored the scientific evidence and continue to deny their responsibilities to the women of America." He continued, "I hope this verdict prompts J&J to acknowledge the facts and help educate the medical community and the public about the proper use of their products."
A spokeswoman for Johnson & Johnson, Carol Goodrich, said the company plans on appealing the verdict. "We are preparing for additional trials this year and we will continue to defend the safety of Johnson's Baby Powder," Goodrich remarked.
The plaintiff's attorney had argued that Johnson & Johnson had known that talc was a carcinogen for decades. The company countered that the scientific studies suggesting that talc causes cancer are flawed. Additionally, the plaintiff attorney claimed that some of the company's products were contaminated with asbestos. The company also disputes that assertion.
Significantly, the defense team for Johnson & Johnson chose to bring this particular case to trial. In March, the defense had won a case where the plaintiff was making similar claims. With the recent verdict in this newest case, attorneys for people allegedly injured by Johnson & Johnson's products will most certainly press ahead with demands for more trials.
Three prior trials held in St. Louis in 2016 resulted in plaintiffs' verdicts of approximately $72 million, $55 million, and $70 million.
There are thousands of similar cases awaiting trial all around the country. If you or your family has lost a loved one or been injured as a result of a defective product, please ensure that the product is preserved and contact our firm to discuss your case.