Lawsuit Verdict $70 Million
Johnson & Johnson (J&J), Wednesday had a legal loss. When a St. Louis Jury ordered the company to pay damages. The damages are amounting to $70 million in a suit brought by a woman claiming she suffered ovarian cancer from using talc powder for feminine hygiene.
So this is the third loss for the talc company in St. Louis, Missouri courts. Where half of about 2,000 ovarian cancer cases got filed. The cases claim the use of J & J talc powder for the genitals caused or contributed to this cancer. The products included in the claims, Shower to Shower, and Baby Powder.
The current jury decision at 9-3 awarded both compensatory and punitive damages for Deborah Giannecchini suit. The 63-year-old is from Modesto, California and suffers from Stage IV ovarian cancer.
The jury awarded the plaintiff $65 million for punitive damages from Johnson & Johnson Consumer Cos. Inc. Then the jury awarded $2.5 million from Imerys Talc America, Inc. Compensatory damages awarded amounting to $2.575 million. Also, this puts J & J responsible for 90 percent of the damages in the suit.
In prior cases, Imrys absolved of any liability in February and May with this ruling lost. In the other two cases, J & J the jury awards equaled $127 million in damages.
More trials scheduled for next year also held in St. Louis.
Talc long used by women is one of the softest minerals. It gets used in consumer products and industrial products. Some of the industrial applications are for chewing gum, filler in capsules and pills. Also, cosmetic products, as a food additive, paints, paper, ceramic materials, and rubber roofing.
However, as far back as 1982, the Journal Cancer published a study showing a link between the genital use of talc and disease. After about twenty other studies they showed the increase of this form of cancer. That linked women reportedly using talc for feminine hygiene.
Some studies conducted found no relation. Furthermore, J & J and other cosmetic companies use these studies. As a way to claim, there is a lack of proof of the link between talc use and this kind of cancer.
Ovarian Cancer Statistics
The American Cancer Society this year alone it is estimated about 22,280 women will get an ovarian cancer diagnosis. About 14,240 of these women will die. This kind of cancer affects about one out of seventy women.
Studies show there is a higher rate of ovarian cancer when using talc for genital hygiene. The increased risk is between 30 and 35 percent. Also, this increases the risk from one in seventy to about one in fifty.
New Jersey Superior Court Judge Nelson C. Johnson kept out testimony from two key witnesses of the plaintiff’s. The judge said their testimony about the “casual connection” between the use of talc and this form of cancer is not scientifically reliable.
Also, in his written opinion of the September ruling. Johnson’s 33 pages he said the omitted testimony had many deficiencies. But this included testimony from Dr. Graham Colditz, a medical professor at Washington University in St. Louis and Dr. Daniel Cramer professor at Harvard Medical School and Brigham & Women’s Hospital. The judge wrote their opinions had “narrowness and shallowness of scientific inquiries and evidence upon which they rely.”
The New Jersey judge felt the product litigation and evidence that led to the jury awards in St. Louis to weak to get presented to New Jersey juries.
Colditz and Cramer both leading authors of epidemiological studies. That involves the link to the type of cancer. Each has testified in other lawsuits.
New Jersey Ovarian Talc Cases
About 200 lawsuits in New Jersey consolidated into class action suits. Must now exclude the evidence to go forward. The evidence now only used if overturned on appeal because of Johnson’s ruling.
Giannecchini’s lawyer Allen Smith compared the risk of talc to tobacco and asbestos industries in his closing argument. Furthermore, comparing the talc company with the others for failure to warn. Hew was asking the question if anyone could disagree a man or woman should have the information. So at least they could make an informed decision that may affect their health.
Her other lawyer Ted Meadows said another jury heard the evidence. They decided there is a link between the J & Johnson talcum powder and this kind of cancer.
Johnson & Johnson lawyer David Dukes answered that no product warnings of this nature aren’t required. Unless the risk is “generally accepted” within the medical community its bad. Finally, Dukes said talc is not accepted. Dukes said, “we are all sympathetic to someone who has cancer.”
He said the case based on emotion. It doesn’t have science on their side. The lawyer went on to say “all of us have had a bad experience with large enterprises.” Then said the whole of scientific evidence doesn’t show talc causes cancer.
However, both J & J and Imerys along with their lawyers say talc is safe to use in a variety of ways. So this was done to discredit the claims of a link between talc use and kind of cancer.
Furthermore, the jury in this case, found J & J and Imerys guilty of negligence. Also, they found the company negligent for failure to warn of the risks of talc for genital use. Finally, the jury found J & J guilty of concealment. They found Imerys liable for conspiracy.
Under a single lawsuit in St. Louis Circuit Court the rules maybe different than other courts. Since it is unusual up to 99 people can be put into a single suit. However, the stipulation for this rule is local residents must have inclusion in the suit. Since the other people can live anywhere in the country. Like Gianecchaini who is a California resident. Previous cases included Sioux Falls, S.D. resident Gloria Ristedsund and the family of Jacqueline Fox of Birmingham, Alabama. Fox died last October at the age of 62 from ovarian cancer.
Wednesday a Dallas, Texas law firm reported what they called the biggest mesothelioma lawsuit. A suit that won an $18.07 million verdict. The case involved exposure to cosmetic talc contaminated by asbestos. Furthermore, this is a deadly form of cancer linked to asbestos. Therefore, the punitive damages included Whittaker, Clark & Daniels the talc supplier.
J & J claim their talc is asbestos free. Since talc and asbestos might come from the same mine deposits.
Johnson & Johnson spokeswoman Carol Goodrich said: “We deeply sympathize with the women and families impacted by ovarian cancer.” Then went on to say they will appeal the jury’s decision. Because the science supports the safe use of Johnson’s Baby Powder. In the statement, the spokeswoman leaned on the New Jersey Supreme Court ruling. As a result, she said the ruling disallowed. Furthermore, the plaintiffs scientific experts theories about talc powder link causes this kind of cancer unaccepted by the judge.
The Scientific Community
Also, the scientific community had suspicions about the risk of using talcum powder. Therefore, until recent litigation the link wasn’t used to prove cases.
Talc Powder Products
Johnson Baby Powder introduced in 1894. Then used for decades for babies. People always thought of as excellent protection and safe.
Shower to Shower is talc based for feminine hygiene use by the company. They promoted the talc product with the slogan. “A sprinkle a day keeps odor away.” Also saying the body perspires in more places than under arms.
October 2012 J & J sold the marketing rights of Shower to Shower to Valeant Pharmaceuticals.