Verdict follows $72 million award in February; Plaintiffs say talcum powder caused ovarian cancer
Leading FMCG Company Johnson & Johnson was ordered by a US jury on Monday to pay $55 million to a woman who said that using the company’s talc-powder products for feminine hygiene caused her to develop ovarian cancer.
The verdict, which J&J now plans to appeal, was the second straight trial suit loss for the company. It is facing about 1,200 similar lawsuits accusing it of not adequately warning consumers about its talc-based products’ cancer risks.
At the conclusion of a three-week trial in Missouri state court, jurors had deliberated for about a day before returning a verdict for Gloria Ristesund. She was awarded $5 million in compensatory damages and $50 million in punitive damages in a suit.
J&J’s official spokesperson Carol Goodrich said the verdict contradicted 30 years of research supporting the safety of cosmetic talc. The company intends to appeal and will continue to defend its products’ safety, she said.
Ristesund said during trial that she used J&J’s talc-based powder products — which include the well-known Baby Powder and Shower to Shower Powder — on her genitals/private parts for decades. According to her Advocates, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and had to undergo a hysterectomy and other related surgeries. Her cancer is now in a remission.
Jere Beasley, whose Law firm represents Ristesund, said his client was gratified with this verdict. The jury’s decision should “end such litigations” and compel J&J to settle the remaining cases, he said.
In Stock Market J&J shares were down 18 cents in after-hours trading to $112.57.
The verdict has followed a $72 million jury award from the same court in February to the family of a woman who died from ovarian cancer after years of using talc powder for feminine hygiene.
That verdict, which J&J is now appealing, sparked a renewed interest in talc-powder lawsuits among plaintiffs’ lawyers, as well as consumers familiar with J&J’s powder products. But scientists have told Reuters the evidence of a real danger is still inconclusive.
Plaintiffs in such talc litigation, which is concentrated only in Missouri and New Jersey state courts, have accused J&J of failing for years to warn its consumers that talc was linked to an increased risk for ovarian cancer. J&J has said it had acted properly in developing and marketing the products.
The only such other case to be tried involving talc powder and ovarian cancer resulted in a mixed verdict in South Dakota federal court in 2013. While those jurors who found J&J was negligent, awarded no damages to the plaintiff, whose cancer was in remission at the time of the ongoing trial.