Jury Returns Third Talcum Powder Verdict Against J&J
Plaintiff Deborah Giannecchini – a 62 year old woman from Modesto, California with stage four ovarian cancer – was awarded $70 million by a St. Louis jury in the latest talcum powder trial. The total award amount includes a massive $65 million in punitive damages against defendant Johnson & Johnson (J&J). The jury also awarded $2.5 million in punitive damages against Imerys, the mining company that sold the talc to J&J. This is the first trial where Imerys has been held responsible. The jury gave their verdict after only three hours of deliberation, sending a clear message to J&J that it acted with reckless disregard for women’s safety when they knew of and failed to warn consumers of the link between genital talc use and ovarian cancer.
During the trial, evidence surfaced showing J&J deliberately hid evidence of the link and instructed its employees to alter documents. The evidence was presented in the form of a written communication between J&J and Imerys (the company’s talc supplier) showing that J&J had known about the link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer for over 30 years. What’s more, the testimony of a former J&J employee showed that the company had been instructing its employees to alter adverse event reports before passing them along to the FDA.
Bloomberg News spoke with Giannecchini’s attorney, Jim Onder who is GoldenbergLaw’s co-counsel on over 100 filed cases in St. Louis. Mr. Onder stated:
“They knew, and they knew the public was unaware of the risk.” Instead of adding warning labels, J&J “developed a defense strategy to prevent government regulation of its products.”
Already this year, J&J has been hit with two other large verdicts in favor of plaintiffs who claimed J&J had a duty to warn about the risks associated with genital talc use:
- Jacqueline Fox was diagnosed with advanced stage ovarian cancer in the spring of 2013. She underwent chemotherapy and numerous surgeries. Two years later, on October 6, 2015, Fox passed away from ovarian cancer at the age of 62. In February 2016, a St. Louis jury returned a verdict of $72 million to her family.
- Gloria Ristesund is a 62 year old woman from Souix Falls, South Dakota. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2011 after using talcum powder for the purpose of genital dusting since 1973. In May 2016, another St. Louis jury returned a verdict of $55 million to Ristesund and five other plaintiffs. The case was a defense pick.
Despite three devastating jury verdicts in a row against them J&J publicly continues to claim the science is with them and the product is safe to use. Baby Powder with Talc remains on the market. J&J plans to appeal the $70 million verdict returned in the Giannecchini trial:
“We are guided by the science, which supports the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder,” says Carol Goodrich – a J&J company spokeswoman in her statement to Bloomberg News.
There are currently 1,700 cases filed against J&J across the nation. Recently an MDL was formed in New Jersey, and three additional trials are scheduled for later this year in St. Louis. Stay tuned as GoldenbergLaw continues to provide updates on the litigation.