California Appeals Court Says Talcum Powder Lawsuit Plaintiff Deserves New Trial

Published on July 12, 2019 by Laurie Villanueva

The family of a California woman who died of ovarian cancer following decades of talcum powder use will have another chance for compensation, after an appeals court overturned part of a decision to dismiss her entire $417 million verdict.

According to a talcum powder lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, Eva Echeverria began using Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based powders for routine feminine hygiene when she was just 11-years-old. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007 and alleged that her talcum powder use contributed to the disease.

Echeverria was awarded $70 million in compensatory damages and $347 million in punitive damages in August 2017, after the jury hearing her case found that Johnson & Johnson failed to warn about the health risks potentially associated with its talc-based powders.

Sadly, she died that September.

Family Wins New Trial on Compensatory Damages

The judge overseeing Echeverria’s talcum powder lawsuit dismissed the entire verdict in October 2017, ruling that there was insufficient evidence of Johnson & Johnson’s liability. Her family then turned to the California Court of Appeals in a bid to have the decision reversed.

Earlier this week, the appeals court handed the family a partial victory, finding that there was substantial evidence to support a finding of liability on the part of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen subsidiary. The plaintiffs were granted a new trial on compensatory damages.

However, the panel also concluded that there was not enough evidence of malice to support the jury’s punitive damage award. That portion of the trial court’s decision was allowed to stand. (JCCP No. 4872, California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Third Division (Los Angeles))

Talcum Powder Ovarian Cancer Litigation

Johnson & Johnson faces more than 13,000 talcum powder lawsuits in courts nationwide that blame Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower for causing either ovarian cancer or mesothelioma.

Plaintiffs claim, among other things, that Johnson & Johnson knew for decades that the regular and repeated application of talc-based powders to the female genitals might increase a woman’s risk for ovarian cancer. Yet the company never issued any warnings and continued to market Baby Powder and other popular brands as safe and effective feminine hygiene products.

The most recent talcum powder ovarian cancer trial concluded last August, when more than 20 plaintiffs were awarded $4.7 billion in compensatory and punitive damages.

A talcum powder trial involving four ovarian cancer victims is scheduled to begin Monday in New Jersey.

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