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Court Upholds $55M Talcum Powder Verdict JJ Appeals

Sep 28, 2016

Earlier this year, a jury awarded $55 million to a plaintiff who alleged that her ovarian and endometrial cancer was the result of regularly using Johnson & Johnson's talcum powder for feminine hygiene. A trial court has upheld that verdict, prompting J&J to appeal. The $55 million award was the second issued this year in favor of talcum powder plaintiffs. The first resulted in a $72 million verdict issued to the family of a woman who died of ovarian cancer.

According to a Sept. 9th Order, all of J&J's post-trial motions have been denied by the Missouri 22nd Judicial Circuit Court for St. Louis City. This includes a motion that sought a judgment notwithstanding the verdict. J&J filed a notice of appeal on Sept. 16th.

The $55 million verdict consisted of $5 million in compensatory damages and $50 million in punitive damages. The verdict was announced on May 2nd. The plaintiff in the lawsuit is a 62-year-old woman who used Johnson & Johnson's Baby Powder daily as part of her feminine hygiene for over 40 years. She was diagnosed with ovarian and endometrial cancer in 2011.

More than 1,000 similar lawsuits have been filed against J&J. Plaintiffs similarly allege that the regular use of talcum powder in the female genital region increases the risk of ovarian cancer. The lawsuits allege that J&J has been aware of these risks for years, but failed to inform the public.

Plaintiffs allege that talcum powder particles can travel up the female reproductive tract and reach the ovaries. They allege that over time, talc buildup can cause the type of inflammation that promotes cancer growth. Suits cite studies published since the 1970s, and allege that J&J has failed to disclose this information to consumers.

A number of talcum powder lawsuits have been centralized in the Missouri litigation. Cases have also been consolidated in Atlantic County Superior Court in New Jersey. Plaintiffs filing federal lawsuits over talcum powder allegations have asked the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to establish a multidistrict litigation (MDL). The panel is expected to address the matter at its Sept. 29th hearing.

MDLs are a type of mass tort where similar lawsuits are brought before one court and one judge. Consolidating common allegations eliminates duplicate discovery and makes complex litigation more efficient.

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