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Talcum powder case brings $70 million verdict against Johnson and Johnson

By Jessica Surber, attorney
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

file0001532482557 morguefile drummerboyA Missouri jury found in favor of a woman who developed ovarian cancer after long-term use of talcum powder in her genital area, awarding her $70 million in damages in late October.

This is the third large verdict against Johnson and Johnson in 2016, with two other juries handing out $55 million and $72 million verdicts to women or their families who were affected by ovarian cancer after the women’s long-term use of talcum powder products. Johnson and Johnson is the maker of Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower, both products containing talc that have been used by women in the genital area for decades. The public recently learned that Johnson and Johnson and other companies knew of this product’s link to ovarian cancer, but continued to market the product as safe for such use.

Punitive damages assessed against manufacturer

The Missouri case was tried in City of St. Louis Circuit Court. The plaintiff, Deborah Giannecchini, was awarded $70.075 million. The majority of the damages were punitive damages of $65 million against Johnson and Johnson, and another $2.5 million against Imerys.

Imerys supplied talc to Johnson and Johnson, and this verdict marks the first time a jury has held the supplier liable in a talcum powder trial.

In another case earlier this year, a South Dakota woman was awarded $55 million in damages, with $50 million of it being punitive damages against Johnson and Johnson. Gloria Ristesund, the plaintiff in the case, was 62 when her ovarian cancer was first diagnosed.

The verdicts indicate juries are taking the link between ovarian cancer and talcum powder seriously – and that women who believe they may have developed ovarian cancer because of long-term genital talcum powder use should seek legal advice right away.

Ovarian cancer is deadly

Women affected by ovarian cancer are subject to costly, difficult, painful and time-consuming treatments to combat the cancer. Women may miss work, lose valuable time with families or be unable to care for others during the time they are combating ovarian cancer. In the St. Louis case, the plaintiff’s cancer was not found until it was Stage IV, and she was only 59 years old. She had used talcum powder on her genital area for 40 years.

The later the disease is discovered, the less likely patients are to survive, according to the American Cancer Society. The 5-year survival rate is less than 17 percent for women whose ovarian cancer is discovered in Stage IV.

Johnson and Johnson has known for some time that there may be a link between ovarian cancer and talcum powder use, but has not taken steps to warn consumers.

Seek legal advice

If you or someone you love has ovarian cancer, it’s important to know that there may be a link between talcum powder use and this deadly disease. Discuss this with your loved one, if you believe they may be a victim. You may also talk to an experienced attorney if you believe your own talcum powder use may be to blame for your ovarian cancer.

There is no cost or obligation to speak to one of our Kentucky attorneys about your case. Contact attorney Jessica Surber at (270) 781-6500 or jrsurber@elpolaw.com.