Attorneys representing a California woman who allegedly developed ovarian cancer due to years of talcum powder use told a Missouri jury Tuesday that Johnson & Johnson intentionally concealed important safety information in order to protect profits from its popular Shower-to-Shower and Baby Powder brands.
“You have an opportunity as a juror in this case to change one of the largest corporation’s behavior,” one the Plaintiffs attorneys said during opening statements on Tuesday. “This is big stuff.”
The case is the third talcum powder lawsuit involving Johnson & Johnson to head to trial this year in Missouri’s 22nd Circuit Court in St. Louis, where hundreds of similar claims have been consolidated. The previous trials both concluded earlier this year with multimillion dollar verdicts in favor of plaintiffs.
Deborah Giannecchini, the Plaintiff at the center of the current trial, suffers from Stage 4 ovarian cancer. Prior to her 2012 diagnoses, she used Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based powders for years as part of her daily feminine hygiene routine. Her lawsuit claims that the company was aware of the talc powder – ovarian cancer link for decades, but chose not to include a warning on its product labels.
“She has literally had her spleen removed, part of her stomach removed, part of her colon removed, all of her ovaries, uterus. She has literally had basically the lower half of her body removed,” Giannechhini’s attorney told jurors. “She said if there would have been a warning on the bottle to not use this on the genital area, she would not have done it and we might not be here.”
According to a report from Law360.com, her attorneys plan to introduce a number of Johnson & Johnson’s own internal documents which they say support Giannechhini’s claims. These include a written out “a question and answer” to prepare for questions from plaintiffs’ lawyers, and that another document that suggested Johnsons & Johnson would one day be compared to the cigarette industry if it did not provide warnings about talc and ovarian cancer.
For their part, Johnson & Johnson’s attorneys asserted that there is no solid link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer.
Johnson & Johnson currently faces more than 1,800 talcum powder lawsuits nationwide that put forth similar allegations regarding ovarian cancer. In addition to the cases pending in Missouri, more than 200 claims have been centralized in New Jersey’s Atlantic County Superior Court. Earlier this week, a multidistrict litigation was established in the U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey for all federally-filed ovarian cancer cases involving Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based powders.