After a four-week trial in Los Angeles, and two days of deliberation, the California state jury voted in favor of the plaintiff. The trial involved the alleged link between Johnson & Johnson’s talc Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products and ovarian cancer that was caused by the plaintiff’s use of those products.
A high-water mark was set on Monday, August 21, with a $417 million verdict for Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) role in causing the woman’s terminal cancer. This amount far surpassed the eight and nine-figure awards from previous similar talc cancer trials in Missouri, reports Law360.
The jury awarded the plaintiff $70 million in compensatory damages and hit J&J and its subsidiary and co-defendant Johnson & Johnson Consumer with $347 million in punitive damages. The trial took place in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles.
First California Talc Cancer Trial
In the first California talc cancer trial, the jury found for the plaintiff, that J&J had failed to warn consumers about the increased risk of ovarian cancer caused by using talcum powder products on a regular basis as part of a feminine hygiene regime.
On the afternoon of the verdict’s announcement, when the plaintiff was told of the verdict, although she is dying, she is glad the verdict may push J&J to change its conduct. She stated that she did this for the other women who were not warned and got ovarian cancer and for the women who will get ovarian cancer if they keep using the talcum powder products, Law360 reports.
National law firm Parker Waichman LLP has extensive and successful experience in product liability litigation, including talcum powder’s alleged link to ovarian cancer. Attorneys at the firm are available to answer questions for individuals seeking legal information for potential lawsuits.
Previous Warnings of Talc’s Link to Ovarian Cancer
The California jury saw evidence indicating J&J was made aware that talc may cause ovarian cancer at several points during the decades that the plaintiff has used its talc products. It was said that the jury likely wanted to make an example of that, and that they wanted J&J to start warning consumers of the risks.
A J&J spokeswoman said there was insufficient scientific evidence to definitively state that genital talc use is associated with an increased cancer risk. She added that J&J will continue to defend the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder and that products’ safety and that J&J will appeal the August 21 verdict.
The plaintiff filed suit with six other women in Los Angeles County Superior Court in July 2016, maintaining that for years she had used talcum powder mined by Imerys Talc America Inc. and sold by J&J. The plaintiff developed ovarian cancer in 2007. The woman is the first plaintiff to head to trial among the hundreds of women in the complex litigation consolidating California claims against the companies, reports Law360.
Talc is a natural clay mineral made up of magnesium, silicon, and oxygen. It is used to absorb moisture and cut down on friction. It is often used in cosmetic products such as baby powder, adult powder, and facial powder, as well as in various other consumer products such as toothpaste, chewing gum, and aspirin.
Some talc contains asbestos, a substance that has been increasingly linked to cancer in and around the lungs when inhaled, according to the American Cancer Society. Extra care must be taken to avoid contamination during the mining process.
Early Talc Concerns
Welsh scientists in 199l, discovered particles of talc embedded in ovarian as well as cervical cancers. In 2006, talcum powder was classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, as a potential human carcinogen if used in the female genital area. Studies have revealed that talc crystals can move up the genitourinary tract into the peritoneal cavity where ovaries are located.
Plaintiffs claimed over the years that J&J and Imerys were aware or should have known from studies and the information that has emerged about talc-based products, that they were allegedly selling a carcinogenic substance to women and opted not to alert consumers of the potential dangers. Due to the recent favorable verdicts for talcum powder lawsuit and ovarian cancer victims, there is reason to hope for significant change to take place in the talc-based product industry.