Johnson & Johnson Loses Another Talcum Powder Lawsuit, as California Jury Awards $417 Million to Plaintiff in State’s First Ovarian Cancer Trial

Published on August 22, 2017 by Laurie Villanueva

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.

Talcum Powder Verdict Includes $347 Million Punitive Award

“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.’’

Talcum Powder Verdicts: Plaintiffs 5, Johnson & Johnson 1

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.

  • February 2016: The jury in Missouri’s first talcum powder trial awarded the family of an Alabama ovarian cancer victim $10 million in compensatory damages, as well as a $62 million punitive award.
  • May 2016: Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $55 million ($5 million compensatory, $50 million punitive) to a South Dakota ovarian cancer victim.
  • October 2016: Another Missouri jury awarded $70 million, including $2.5 million in compensatory damages and $67.5 million in punitive damages, at the conclusion of the litigation’s third trial.
  • March 2017: Missouri’s fourth talcum powder ovarian cancer trial concluded with a verdict for Johnson & Johnson.
  • May 2017: The jury convened for Missouri’s fifth talcum powder trial awarded the plaintiff more than $100 million in compensatory and punitive damages.

Johnson & Johnson is appealing all of its losses in Missouri, and has indicated that it will also appeal the California verdict.

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