A pathology expert called to testify in California’s first talcum powder ovarian cancer trial told a Los Angeles Superior Court jury earlier this month that talc particles had been detected in the plaintiff’s ovaries.
According to Law360.com, John Godleski recently retired from a professorship at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He examined dozens of tissue samples taken from Eva Echeverria when her reproductive organs were removed as part of her cancer treatment.
Godleski said he found 11 talc particles during his examination. However, he noted that the samples he examined only represented a very small percentage of the tissue removed from her body. He also cited studies that have shown that the presence of one foreign particle in a sample could indicate hundreds of additional particles.
“In this case since we found eleven in the volume of tissue we looked at, we could apply that same kind of logic, and what we come away with is there’s a substantial burden of talc in Ms. Echeverria’s tissue,” Godleski said during his August 2nd testimony.
Finally, he maintained that the particles found in Escheverria’s tissue were related to the use of talcum powder on her genital area, not oral consumption.
Echeverria, 63, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007, and claims that the disease resulted from her long-term use of Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based powders for feminine hygiene purposes.
Like other plaintiffs involved in the nationwide talcum powder litigation, she alleges the company was long aware of studies linking genital talc use to an increased risk of ovarian cancer, but failed to warn the public of this possible risk in order to protect its corporate image, as well as the profits derived from its Shower-to-Shower and Baby Powder talcum powder franchises.
“It’s the safe and gentle corporate image of a mother and baby that the defendants are placing over human life, in this case,” one of her attorneys said during opening statements earlier this month.
Johnson & Johnson has been named a defendant in more than 4,000 talcum powder lawsuits in state and federal courts throughout the country. In addition to California, similar litigations are currently underway in Missouri, New Jersey and Delaware state courts, as well as New Jersey Federal Court.
The Missouri litigation had already concluded five talcum powder trials, with plaintiffs winning all but one. Juries in those four cases ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay both compensatory and punitive damages, with total awards ranging from $55 million to $100 million.