A California woman who says Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powders caused her to develop ovarian cancer has been awarded $417 million, after a jury found that the health care products giant failed to warn her of the risks potentially linked to its Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower products.
The verdict is the largest so far in a litigation that includes more than 5,500 talcum powder lawsuit filings nationwide, and the fifth loss for Johnson & Johnson.
“We are grateful for the jury’s verdict on this matter and that Eva Echeverria was able to have her day in court,” one of the plaintiffs’ lawyers said yesterday after the verdict was read in Los Angeles Superior Court.
Echeverria was not present, as her cancer has entered a terminal stage and she was too ill to appear. According to her lawsuit, the 63-year-old woman began using the Johnson & Johnson talc products for routine feminine hygiene when she was 11. Echeverria was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007.
Yesterday’s verdict followed two days of jury deliberations, and included $347 million in punitive damages. According to Bloomberg.com, it ranks as the second-largest jury award of 2017.
During the trial, Echeverria’s attorneys cited several studies that pointed to a link between long-term genital talc use and ovarian cancer, including a paper from 1982 that suggested women who used talcum powder for routine feminine hygiene faced a 92% increased risk for the disease. They also highlighted internal Johnson & Johnson documents dating back to 1964 as proof that the company was aware of the potential danger.
“My client’s dying,” Echeverria’s lawyer said. “But she feels good today that maybe women in America and maybe even Johnson & Johnson will get the message.’’
The California talcum powder litigation houses around 300 lawsuits. Thousands of additional cases are pending in Missouri, New Jersey, and Delaware state courts, as well as New Jersey federal court.
The Missouri litigation is the nation’s largest, and has already concluded five talcum powder trials. Plaintiffs have been awarded significant damages in all but one of those claims.
Johnson & Johnson is appealing all of its losses in Missouri, and has indicated that it will also appeal the California verdict.