Yesterday, in the first California trial over Johnson & Johnson’s talc powder, a Los Angeles jury awarded $417 million (including $347 million in punitive damages meant to punish the company) to a 62 year old woman, Eva Echeverria who developed ovarian cancer after using its talc-based products for feminine hygiene. (Echeverria v. Johnson & Johnson, BC628228, Los Angeles County Superior Court.) Specially, the lawsuit, (along with thousands of others filed across the country), alleged that Johnson & Johnson knew or should have known that perineal use of its talcum powder products can cause ovarian cancer in women, but failed to provide adequate instructions and warnings with respect to the products.
Similarly, in May 2016, a jury in St. Louis awarded $55 million in damages to Gloria Ristesund, a woman who used Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder for feminine hygiene more than 35 years before being diagnosed with ovarian cancer. In October, 2016,a St. Louis jury awarded a California woman, Deborah Giannecchini, $70.075 million in her lawsuit alleging that years of using Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder caused her cancer. In May, 2017, a jury to pay over $110 million to a Virginia woman, Lois Slemp, who developed ovarian cancer after decades of using of its talc-based products for feminine hygiene.
As in yesterday’s CA verdict, in each of these cases the juries all agreed that Johnson and Johnson knew of its talc-based products’ cancer risks, but failed to warn consumers such as Ms. Ristesund, Ms. Giannecchini, Ms. Slemp, and Ms. Echeverria.
Johnson & Johnson is facing litigation across the country. On October 4, 2016, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) issued an order transferring additional federal cases alleging that women developed cancer following use of Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products (namely Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower body powder) to U.S. District Judge Freda L. Wolfson in the District of New Jersey for coordinated or consolidated pretrial proceedings. (MDL 2738, In Re: Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Products Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation)