Johnson & Johnson loses $110 Million Talc Powder Verdict

Johnson & Johnson just lost another huge verdict over its talc products. On May 4, 2017, a jury ordered J&J to pay a Virginia woman more than $110 million for failing to warn her that Johnson’s talc powder contains cancer-causing asbestos. The jurors agreed with the plaintiff’s lawyers that asbestos in J&J’s talc powder caused the woman’s ovarian cancer.

Related: Talcum Powder Cancer Lawsuit

The Missouri jury ordered J&J to pay the woman damages. They agreed that she developed ovarian cancer after decades of using J&J talc-based products for feminine hygiene.

Largest Talc Cancer Verdict to date  (May 2017)

The verdict in state court in St. Louis is the largest to date. It stems from one of an estimated 2,400 lawsuits that accuse J&J of failing to adequately warn of cancer risks linked with talc-based products. Johnson’s Baby Powder is, of course, one of the world’s best-known talc products. It is also J&J’s flagship product; so the company is not going gentle into that good night. Its lawyers will continue to vigorously defend J&J, a company spokesman said, despite mounting jury losses.

$197 Million in Jury Verdicts
J&J has faced four prior trials in St. Louis, home to many of the talc cancer lawsuits. Three have resulted in $197 million in verdicts against J&J and a related talc supplier.

The May 4, 2017 verdict came in a talc cancer lawsuit against J&J and talc supplier Imerys Talc. The plaintiff was Virginia resident Lois Slemp. Diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012, she is now undergoing chemotherapy after her cancer returned and spread to her liver.

Ms. Slemp testified that she developed cancer after four decades of using talc-containing products made by J&J. She said she used J&J’s Baby Powder and also its Shower to Shower Powder.

Punitive Damages in $110 Million Verdict
The jury awarded $5.4 million in compensatory damages. They ruled that J&J was 99 percent at fault, while Imerys was one (1) percent to blame. The jury awarded punitive damages of $105 million against J&J, $50,000 against Imerys.

A lawyer for Ms. Slemp said, “[T]hese companies ignored the scientific evidence and continue to deny their responsibilities to the women of America.”

Johnson & Johnson Response
J&J announced in a statement that it “sympathized” with women impacted by ovarian cancer but planned to appeal the verdict. A company spokes model said J&J is “preparing for additional trials this year and will continue to defend the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder.”

J&J loses 4 of 5 Trials over Baby Powder
In March 2017, J&J scored its first trial win in the Missouri litigation.  That jury sided with the company in a lawsuit brought by a Tennessee woman who said her ovarian cancer was caused by Johnson’s Baby Powder.

Paintiffs had won all three previous trials against J&J and its talc powders. In February 2017, a jury awarded $72 million to the family of a woman who died from ovarian cancer. In May 2016, a jury awarded $55 million to a woman who said J&J’s talc-powder products caused her ovrian cancer. A third jury hit J&J and Imerys with a $70 million verdict in October 2016.  Plaintiffs also beat J&J in a fourth talcum powder cancer trial in South Dakota, in 2014. However, the jury in that case was told that the woman who sued was in remission from her ovarian cancer. The jury did not award that lucky woman any damages.

The $110 million verdict is Slemp v. Johnson & Johnson, 22nd Judicial Circuit of Missouri, No. 1422-CC09326-01.

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