Less than three months after Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $72 million for a case in which a woman died from ovarian cancer after using J & J powders with talc, the pharmaceutical giant has suffered a second setback.
Following a three-week trial, a jury in St. Louis, Missouri awarded Gloria Ristesund $55 million after she developed ovarian cancer in 2011. Ristesund had used Johnson & Johnson baby powder and Shower to Shower powder with talc for more than 35 years prior to her diagnosis.
Ristesund’s attorneys told the jury that after receiving her diagnosis of ovarian cancer she was forced to undergo a hysterectomy as well as several more surgeries related to the cancer.
Did Johnson & Johnson Exhibit a Failure to Warn?
Many of the lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson, including Ristesund’s, allege J & J was fully aware of the potential risks associated with talc, yet failed to warn consumers of those risks. Despite the fact that a 1997 internal J & J memo stated that anyone who denied the risk of using talc for feminine hygiene and an increased risk of ovarian cancer was “denying the obvious in the face of all evidence to the contrary,” J & J continues to maintain the safety of talc. The hard-to-deny internal memo came from a J & J company medical consultant.
The First Verdict Against Johnson & Johnson
The February case was brought by the family of Jackie Fox, who died of ovarian cancer in at the age of 62. Fox, an Alabama woman, used Johnson & Johnson Shower to Shower and baby powder for more than 35 years, died barely more than two years after receiving her diagnosis of ovarian cancer The jury in the Fox case awarded $10 million in actual damages, and $62 million in punitive damages, which are meant as a punishment for as well as a deterrent for the same type of behavior in the future. Even though Johnson & Johnson continues to maintain that talc is safe, it is somewhat curious that the company has continued to sell powder containing talc, when they also sell baby powder with cornstarch instead of talc.
In January, 2015, a federal judge allowed conspiracy claims raised regarding talcum powder and ovarian cancer to move forward against J & J. The claims alleged J & J actively tried to hide information regarding the risks associated with Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder and Shower-to-Shower body powder. The judge’s ruling followed a wrongful death lawsuit brought by Shawn Blaes’ husband. Blaes died from ovarian cancer in January 2011, after regular and prolonged use of Johnson & Johnson’s powders with talc in the perineal area. Michael Blaes claimed J & J was aware of the risks of talcum powder, however covered up information regarding those risks and failed to warn consumers. Blaes further presented claims for breach of warranty, negligence civil conspiracy and concert of action.
Can Talc Cause Ovarian Cancer?
While the American Cancer Society says the issue of whether talc increases the risk of cancer is “not clear,” the International Agency for Research on Cancer—a part of the World Health Organization—classifies talc as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” This is one fight the FDA will not be involved in, since products containing talc are classified as cosmetics, therefore are not required to undergo FDA review. While several studies have concluded a definitive link between talcum powder used in the genital area and ovarian cancer, other studies have been inconclusive. It appears jurors, at least, believe talcum powder is linked to ovarian cancer.
Contact Our Jackson Product Liability Lawyers
If you or someone you love has developed ovarian cancer after using Johnson & Johnson baby powder, it is important to discuss your case with an experienced Mississippi product liability attorney.
At Coxwell & Associates, PLLC, our attorneys believe in fighting aggressively for injured Mississippi consumers. We also believe in holding negligent product manufacturers responsible for their actions and for the injuries they have caused. We can help you obtain the money you need to fully recover. today at 1-601-948-1600 or 1-877-231-1600.
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Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.