A jury in St. Louis, Missouri yesterday handed Johnson & Johnson its third loss in a growing number of lawsuits alleging the company’s baby powder products caused deadly ovarian cancer in users.
And, although this case didn’t reach the historic $72 million level awarded to the family of Jacqueline Fox in February, it’s still staggering as the jury ordered J&J to pay a whopping $55 million to a victim whose cancer has gone into remission.
Lawyers think the back-to-back awards send a clear signal that juries are angered at the behavior of J&J, and that those affected will receive significant compensation, whether through trial or an eventual settlement.
Gloria Ristesund’s Lawsuit Against Johnson & Johnson
The case was filed by South Dakota resident Gloria Ristesund, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2011 after using Johnson & Johnson baby powder products containing talc for nearly 40 years.
Fortunately, Ristesund survived her cancer, which is now in remission, but only after undergoing a hysterectomy.
Like many women of her generation, Ristesund grew up believing Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower were safe for feminine hygiene to prevent wetness and odor, based on decades of advertising by the company.
What she didn’t know, however, was that over 30 years worth of scientific data suggested a deadly link to ovarian cancer, or that J&J hid these risks from consumers.
Decades of Research Shows Ovarian Cancer Link
Talc is an extremely soft mineral that has been used since the early 1900’s for reducing moisture and rashes, as well as in a multitude of industrial products. It has been used in forms of Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower for decades.
Beginning in 1982, researchers first quantified an ovarian cancer risk associated with the use of talcum powders for feminine hygiene. A team of doctors from Harvard found that users faced around a 33% increased risk.
Since then, more than 15 other studies have reached similar conclusions, as recently as December of 2015.
However, the companies that sell baby powder and feminine hygiene products have sponsored their own studies, which unsurprisingly say that the substance is safe.
Did J&J Hide the Dangers of Talcum Powder?
As part of this case, the jury was presented with internal memos from Johnson & Johnson suggesting the company’s own doctors tried to warn of a risk of ovarian cancer from talcum powder. However, J&J has not published any warning for consumers.
Instead, the company decided to step up marketing efforts to those women they saw as the biggest users of baby powder products, specifically older women and minorities.
In February, the jury in the case of Jacqueline Fox heard similar evidence. As a result of her death from ovarian cancer, they awarded her surviving family $72 million.
Lawyers Helping With New Talcum Ovarian Cancer Lawsuits
A common theme in both recent awards for ovarian cancer victims is that juries have ordered J&J to pay significant punitive damages. These are meant to punish a company for their actions and are usually only awarded in extreme circumstances.
Lawyers think this sends a clear message that juries are angered at the conduct of J&J and other trials could have similar results.
So far, more than 3,000 victims have come forward to tell of battling ovarian cancer or the loss of a loved one from the disease after the use of J&J products.
Based on the number of people affected, cases could be consolidated to a special multidistrict litigation court for quicker handling, which is similar to a baby powder class action lawsuit.
For now, lawyers are urging anyone affected by ovarian cancer or the loss of a loved one from the disease after baby powder use to learn their legal options. It costs nothing to investigate or file a case, and lawyer fees are only paid if an award is received.
For more information on the risks and litigation surrounding talcum powder products, or to speak directly with a lawyer handling these cases, contact DrugNews today.
Fisk, M. et al. J&J Ordered to Pay $55 Million Over Cancer Linked to Talc. Bloomberg News. (May 2, 2016). Retrieved from www.bloomberg.com
Dye, J. Johnson & Johnson ordered to pay $55 million in talc-powder trial. Reuters. (May 2, 2016). Retrieved from www.reuters.com
Hogans v. Johnson & Johnson, 1422-CC09012-01, Circuit Court, St. Louis City, Missouri.
Last summer, the Department of Justice unveiled the details of an ongoing lawsuit and resulting settlement against industrial giant 3M, claiming the company had furnished defective combat earplugs to millions of U.S. troops serving around the world.