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A jury in St. Louis, Missouri, has ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay more than $110 million to a Virginia woman who says she developed ovarian cancer after decades of using the company’s talc-based products for feminine hygiene. According to a CBS News report, the verdict in state court in St. Louis was the largest so far to come out of about 2,400 lawsuits. All of these lawsuits accuse J & J of failing to properly warn consumers about the ovarian cancer risks of talc-based products including its popular Johnson’s Baby Powder.
Talcum Powder and Ovarian Cancer
Many of those lawsuits are pending in St. Louis where the pharmaceutical giant has faced four prior trials, three of which resulted in $197 million verdicts against J & J and a talc supplier. The plaintiff in this case was Lois Slemp who is currently undergoing chemotherapy after her ovarian cancer initially diagnosed in 2012 returned and spread to her liver. Slemp said she used J&J’s talcum powder products for four decades including the Baby Powder and Shower to Shower, for feminine hygiene.
The jury awarded Slemp $5.4 million in compensatory damages and held J & J 99 percent at fault and talc supplier Imerys at 1 percent. Jurors also awarded $105 million in punitive damages against J & J and $50,000 against Imerys. J & J said in a statement that even though it sympathizes with women who are suffering from ovarian cancer, it plans to appeal this verdict. They have also said they will continue to defend their talcum powder products in upcoming trials.
Key Testimony in the Case
In addition to significant evidence in this case, there was also key testimony from Harvard epidemiologist Dr. Daniel Cramer who said that Slemp’s use of talcum powder for feminine hygiene was the single significant cancer that increased her risk of developing ovarian cancer. He testified before the jury that her genital use of talc
was the “major contributing cause and substantial cause” in the development of her ovarian cancer. Cramer was one of the first scientists to connect the dots between talc use for feminine hygiene and ovarian cancer. In fact, he had published an article as early as 1985 urging doctors to warn their patients against using talc on their genitals.
As talcum powder attorneys who are in the process of fighting for the rights of women whose lives have changed because of these defective products and J & J’s failure to warn, we are extremely pleased at the St. Louis jury’s decision. We are hopeful that other plaintiffs will get their day in court and that J & J will eventually step up and do the right thing by putting a warning on its talcum powder products.