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UPDATE: The trial judge granted Johnson & Johnson’s motion for a new trial in this case, overturning the verdict and ruling that there were errors and jury misconduct. Plaintiff Eva Echeverria died after the trial; her estate has appealed the ruling vacating the award.
Published on September 20, 2017
The first California trial of a plaintiff claiming her ovarian cancer was caused by Johnson & Johnson talc powder ended in a $417 million award for plaintiff Eva Echeverria.
Previous talc lawsuits had been tried in state court in St. Louis, Missouri. Last year the Supreme Court ruled that cases must be tried in the state where the injuries occurred. Since then, Johnson & Johnson has worked to get the St. Louis cases dismissed, claiming that St. Louis is an over-friendly plaintiff’s jurisdiction. This California jury award of $367 million in punitive damages was more than was awarded in all four St. Louis talc verdicts put together.
Echeverria, age 63, was too ill to attend the trial. She was initially diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007, when a softball sized tumor was removed by her surgeon. Her videotape deposition was played for the jury. She testified that she used Johnson & Johnson baby powder from age 11 until 2016 when she saw a story on the news about a woman with ovarian cancer who had used talcum powder.
As in previous trials, evidence was introduced to show that J&J has been aware for decades of studies linking use of talcum powder to cancer, and withheld that information from consumers. A 1982 study was introduced that showed a 92% increased risk for talc users of developing ovarian cancer. The study’s author, Daniel W. Cramer, later recommended that Johnson & Johnson put warning labels on talc powder products.
New evidence introduced at this trial included warning labels on bottles of talcum powder sold at Walmart and Dollar Tree, warning of the risk of ovarian cancer. Johnson & Johnson has never warned consumers of the risks of ovarian cancer from talc use. Echeverria also produced evidence that members of the Cosmetic Ingredient Review, an industry organization that has pronounced talc a safe ingredient, has received payments from Johnson and Johnson for speeches and other engagements.
Johnson & Johnson has appealed the verdict, claiming that passion and prejudice tainted the jury’s decision.
It is recommended that women who use talcum powder switch to cornstarch, arrowroot, or any other powder made without talc. If you or a loved one has developed ovarian cancer after using talc powder, call the talcum powder lawyers at Thornton Law Firm for a free and confidential consultation. Please call Attorney Marilyn McGoldrick at 1-888-341-1405 or tell us your story online for a comprehensive evaluation of your legal rights. Seek legal advice as soon as possible. Legal claims have short time limits that are strictly enforced by the courts. Do not delay.