The jury weighing evidence in Missouri’s third trial of a Johnson & Johnson talcum powder lawsuit is scheduled to hear closing arguments tomorrow. The trial began on October 4th, and is being closely monitored by attorneys representing hundreds of plaintiffs in similar cases.
Deborah Giannecchini, the plaintiff at the center of this trial, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012, and is currently in Stage 4 of the disease. As a result of her cancer, she has undergone the complete removal of her ovaries and uterus, as well as removal of her spleen, part of her stomach, and a portion of her colon.
Her lawsuit claims that Johnson & Johnson was aware of evidence linking the genital application of talc powder to ovarian cancer for decades, but chose not to include a warning on its product labels out of a motivation to protect profits from Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower. During the trial, Giannecchini’s attorneys introduced a number of Johnson & Johnson’s own internal documents into evidence, including a memo that suggested the company would one day be compared to the cigarette industry if it did not take steps to warn the public.
“The internal documents show that as the medical community became aware that talc causes cancer, they (Johnson and Johnson) began target-marketing to blacks and Hispanics, the two groups they knew were at risk and who were the highest user rates,” one of the plaintiff’s lawyers told CBS St. Louis just prior to the start of the trial.
Johnson & Johnson currently faces more than 1,800 talcum powder lawsuits nationwide that put forth similar allegations regarding ovarian cancer. Two cases have already gone to trial in Missouri, the first of which concluded in February with a $72 million verdict in favor of the plaintiff. A second plaintiff was awarded $55 million in April.
About 200 additional talcum powder lawsuits have been centralized in New Jersey Superior Court. Earlier this month, more than 30 federal claims involving Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based powders were consolidated in a multidistrict litigation and transferred to the U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey.