A jury in St. Louis has awarded $4.69 billion to 22 women who blamed their ovarian cancer on asbestos in Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products. According to a Los Angeles Times news report, the corporation should ready itself for a flood of new product liability lawsuits after this massive verdict on July 12. So far, there are already about 9,000 lawsuits claiming that J&J’s talc-based baby powder causes ovarian cancer and other cancers specific to asbestos such as mesothelioma. This number could get even higher in the wake of the Missouri jury’s decision, legal experts say.
Sixth Largest Product Defect Verdict
This is the biggest product liability verdict in the U.S. in 2018 yet and the sixth largest product liability verdict ever in the history of this nation. Plaintiffs’ attorneys presented critical evidence during this trial including internal documents showing that company officials were aware for more than 30 years that there were at least trace amounts of asbestos found in different batches of talc used in its baby powder.
J&J, however, has vigorously fought lawsuits blaming cancer on its popular and iconic baby powder products in the past. Women who have filed these lawsuits say they were exposed to asbestos while inhaling the powder or while using it on their genitals. More than 20,000 ovarian cancer cases are reported each year in the United States. The company issued a statement soon after this landmark verdict saying many of the 22 plaintiffs in the lawsuit were not from Missouri and should not have been allowed to join in. J&J, of course, plans to appeal this verdict.
Justice for Victims
As product liability attorneys who continue to represent victims of J&J talcum powder products that have led to ovarian cancer, we applaud the jury for sending this strong message to a corporation that has been in a state of denial about the danger posed by its products. Not only did J&J know about asbestos in its talcum powder, but it continued to market it aggressively for decades without the slightest concern that it could harm women and babies.
We are pleased that these 22 women got not only their day in court, but also the satisfaction of holding a large corporation accountable for their unethical practices. We hope this verdict changes the trajectory for other product liability lawsuits against J&J filed by victims of ovarian and other cancers.