A California jury on Monday ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $417 million to an ailing woman who claimed she developed ovarian cancer after using the company’s talc-based baby powder for feminine hygiene.
The verdict in the lawsuit filed by the California woman, Eva Echeverria, marks the largest sum awarded in a series of talcum powder lawsuit verdicts against Johnson & Johnson in courts around the U.S.
The verdict included $70 million in compensatory damages and $347 million in punitive damages. It was a significant setback for J & J, which already faces 4,800 similar claims nationally. Echeverria’s lawsuit was the first out of many of California talc cases to go to trial. Relative to Echeverria’s case, more than 1000 other people have similar lawsuits. Some who won their lawsuits won much lower amounts.
The ruling came after five other cases in Missouri state court, where many other lawsuits are pending. The Missouri cases, which have largely originated from out-of-state plaintiffs, have faced jurisdictional questions after the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in June that limited where personal injury lawsuits can be filed.
Echeverria alleged Johnson & Johnson failed to warn consumers regarding talcum powder’s potential cancer risks. She used the product regularly starting in the 1950’s until 2016. She was however diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007.
The California woman hoped that her case would prompt J & J to put additional warnings on its products. Her intention lay mostly on assisting other women throughout the whole country that have ovarian cancer out of using Johnson & Johnson for two or three decades.
J & J’s lawyers and spokeswoman Carol Goodrich countered that studies and federal agencies have not found that talc products are carcinogenic.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2006 classified talcum powder as a probable human carcinogen if used in the female genital area, but no federal agencies have taken any action to remove talcum powder from the consumer market.
Johnson & Johnson has had many warning bells over a 30 year period but has failed to warn women when buying the famous Johnson’s baby powder.
The case is Echeverria v. Johnson & Johnson, BC628228, Los Angeles County Superior Court.