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By: Marilyn McGoldrick, Esq.
NOTE: This verdict was later overturned for lack of personal jurisdiction, based on the Supreme Court decision in Bristol-Myers Squibb v. Superior Court of California, San Francisco County, et al., 582 U.S.___ (2017).
A St. Louis jury awarded $72 million dollars to the family of a woman who developed ovarian cancer after using Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder for many years. The jury awarded $10 million dollars in compensatory damages and $62 million dollars to the family of an Alabama woman. Plaintiff Jackie Fox died of ovarian cancer on October 6th. She had used Johnson & Johnson baby powder and “Shower to Shower” talcum powder for 35 years.
Fox’s family submitted expert medical testimony that talcum powder causes ovarian cancer. Statistical evidence presented at trial also showed that 1,500 women per year die from the association between talcum powder and ovarian cancer.
While many other manufacturers now substitute corn starch for talc in baby powder, Johnson & Johnson continues to use talc in its baby powder products and continues to maintain that it is safe. The American Cancer Society advised in 1999 that women use cornstarch powder, rather than talcum powder, in the genital area.
Key evidence in the trial were internal memos from Johnson & Johnson. A 1997 memo from a J&J medical consultant, toxicologist Alfred P. Wehner, declared:
“There are at least 9 epidemiological studies published in the professional literature describing a statistically significant (albeit weak) association between hygienic talc use and ovarian cancer….Anybody who denies this risks that the talc industry will be perceived by the public like it perceives the cigarette industry: denying the obvious in the face of all evidence to the contrary.”
Other Johnson & Johnson documents showed the company discussing internally how to defend potential lawsuits, and talking about hiring a female oncologist to get their message out.
The jury forewoman, Krista Smith, called the Johnson & Johnson internal documents “decisive”, stating “It was really clear they were hiding something. All they had to do was put a warning label on.”
More than 1200 other lawsuits are still pending against J&J from women who developed ovarian cancer after using talcum powder. Johnson & Johnson is expected to appeal this verdict.
Women who use baby powder should look for a powder that is made from cornstarch, not talc. If you have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer after using talcum powder, call the defective product lawyers at Thornton Law Firm for a legal consultation. You can tell us your story online or call Attorney Marilyn McGoldrick at 1-888-341-1405 for a free, confidential evaluation of your legal rights. All legal claims have short time limits, so get legal advice quickly.