A jury in St. Louis handed down a massive $4.69 billion damages award in a case brought by eleven women who claimed that the Johnson & Johnson talc products that they had used much of their lives had caused them to develop ovarian cancer which had, by the time verdict was rendered, claimed the lives of eight of those women.
The award, which included $4.14 billion in punitive damages and $500 million in compensatory damages, is likely to be appealed. Previous judgments against Johnson & Johnson in talc cases have been overturned on appeal for technical legal reasons. However, this judgment shows that juries are willing to listen to the women that claim the product harmed them, and to find in their favor. Johnson & Johnson is currently battling over 9,000 talc cases nationwide.
The plaintiffs claim that the talc products produced by Johnson & Johnson – which include its still-wildly-popular baby powder – contain asbestos fibers, that the company knew that the products contained those fibers, and that it continued to market and sell the product. Asbestos is considered a dangerous, cancer-causing carcinogen. The company’s talc products were tested for asbestos by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2009 and 2010, and no evidence of asbestos was found. However, plaintiffs contend that the testing was flawed and not designed to detect asbestos fibers.
Jurors have agreed with plaintiffs on numerous occasions, which undoubtably makes the prospect of defending 9,000 cases across the nation unappealing for Johnson & Johnson. However, the company has declined to remove its talc products from store shelves and continues to maintain that the products themselves are completely safe.
“Having successfully represented a client in a talc case against Johnson & Johnson and secured a $72 million verdict for our client, we are glad to hear that another jury has found in favor of these women that have suffered so much because of the product,” said Derrick Earles, a Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Attorney with the law firm of Laborde Earles in Louisiana. 2,200 cases of ovarian cancer each year may be a result of talc products. If you or a loved one were a regular user of talc products and have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, contact a Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices attorney to assess whether you may have a claim against the manufacturer.
These claims are not going away, and until Johnson & Johnson recognizes the danger of these products and pulls them from the shelves, it will continue to expose itself to liability and consumers to danger.