Jury Awards $70M Verdict to Talcum Powder Plaintiff

Johnson & Johnson has been hit with a $70 million verdict in the third talcum powder trial. Earlier this year, two juries also found for talcum powder plaintiffs, awarding verdicts of $72 million and $55 million. Plaintiffs in the litigation allege that J&J failed to warn that its talcum powder products, such as Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower, can increase the risk of ovarian cancer when used for feminine hygiene.

According to Bloomberg, there are over 1,700 talcum powder lawsuits in state and federal court alleging J&J talcum powder products contributed to ovarian cancer. The lawsuit that went to trial was filed on behalf of a 62-year-old woman from California. She used J&J’s baby powder in the genital region for over forty years. Three years ago, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Her lawsuit alleges that her cancer was a result of using talcum powder and that J&J failed to warn consumers about this risk. The plaintiff has an eighty percent chance of dying in the next two years, her attorneys say.

According to Bloomberg, jurors deliberated for three hours before returning a verdict in favor of the plaintiff. A J&J unit was ordered to pay $65 million in punitive damages and 90 percent of about $2.5 million in medical expenses and pain and suffering. Jurors also ordered Imerys Talc America, the talc supplier, to pay $2.3 million in punitive damages. Up until now, Imerys has managed to avoid such penalties.

One juror said that J&J should have labeled its talcum powder products with information from various studies so that consumers could make an informed decision. “It seemed like Johnson & Johnson didn’t pay attention,” the juror said, according to Bloomberg. “It seemed like they didn’t care.”

Plaintiffs allege that the fine talc particles can travel up the female reproductive tract and accumulate in the ovaries, where they can cause the type of inflammation that promotes cancer growth. Lawsuits cite a number of studies throughout the years, and allege that J&J should have updated the warning label on talcum powder products in light of the findings. For instance, plaintiffs cite a 1971 study where researchers found talc particles embedded in ovarian tumors.

During the trial, jurors heard from an expert witness for the plaintiffs. The expert testimony, which came from a man who runs a compliance consulting firm for over-the-counter drugs and cosmetic products, told jurors that J&J should have labeled its talcum powder products since 1982, citing findings from a study.

J&J denies the allegations in talcum powder lawsuits, and says it will appeal the verdict. Imerys said it was “disappointed” with the outcome of this trial, Bloomberg reports.

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