Johnson & Johnson Ordered to Pay $72 Million to Family of Ovarian Cancer Victim
Author: Attorney Jason Macri
A St. Louis, Missouri, jury recently found Johnson & Johnson acted negligently in failing to warn women who use its talcum powder in their genital area that they are subject to an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer. The jury awarded $72 million to the family of a woman who died from ovarian cancer in 2015 after using the company’s baby powder as a feminine hygiene product for many years. This included $10 million for the family’s actual damages and $62 million in punitive damages. Punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant, Johnson & Johnson for its bad behavior.
Talc is composed of hydrogen, magnesium, oxygen and silicon and included in many products to absorb moisture. Although disputed by Johnson & Johnson, many reputable authorities claim that when talc containing products are used in a woman’s genital area over a period of time, the talc creeps up the vagina, settles in the ovaries and ultimately causes cancer. Authorities also agree that it is reasonably foreseeable to Johnson & Johnson that women would use their talcum-based products in that manner.
Although the American Cancer Society says it is not clear whether talc causes cancer, the Cancer Prevention Coalition has called for Johnson & Johnson to remove its talc-based product from the market. Additionally, there are studies going back as far as 1971 which link the use of talc based products in a woman’s genital area to the development of ovarian cancer.
At the Missouri trial, a Harvard University doctor testified that 10 percent of all ovarian cancer cases are due to women using talc containing products for feminine hygiene. Other experts, not presented at the Missouri trial, have said studies indicate the use of talcum powder in the genital area increases the risk of ovarian cancer by 20 to 40 percent.
Currently, more than 1,200 similar lawsuits have been filed in Missouri and New Jersey and more are expected to be filed across the country. The lawsuits allege that Johnson & Johnson has known about that risk and still failed to warn about it when manufacturing, labeling and distributing its product. After the Missouri trial, jurors spoke to the press and stated they were swayed by a 1997 internal memo proving that Johnson & Johnson knew of the increased risk of ovarian cancer, but chose not to warn consumers.
If you are a long-time user of Johnson & Johnson baby powder for your feminine hygiene and have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, or someone you love died from ovarian cancer, contact our experienced personal injury and product liability attorneys. We work for clients nationwide and offer a free consultation. We will review your case and advise you on how to proceed.