$70 Million Talcum Powder Verdict Stands, as Missouri Court Denies J&J Post-Trial Motions

Johnson & Johnson has known about cancer risks since the 1970s.
Johnson & Johnson has known about cancer risks since the 1970s.

Johnson & Johnson and other talcum powder lawsuit defendants have been denied their bid to overturn the $70 million verdict awarded to the plaintiff in the state’s third ovarian cancer trial.

In orders issued last week, the Missouri 22nd Circuit Court in St. Louis denied all of the defendants’ post-trial motions, including those that sought a judgment notwithstanding the verdict, a new trial, and a reduction in punitive damages. (Case No 1422-CC09012-01)

On October 27, 2016, a third jury awarded more than $70 million in damages to Deborah Giannecchini, 62, of Modesto, CA, on her claim that her use of baby powder and other Johnson & Johnson talc products over 40 years caused her ovarian cancer. She was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer in 2012 and talc was found in her ovaries.

Internal J&J memos showed the company was aware of studies linking talc powder to an increased risk of ovarian cancer for decades.

The Oct. 27 verdict also held Imerys Talc liable. Imerys supplied talc to J&J and placed health warnings on the material safety data sheets for the talc. J&J, however, has never put a health warning on its Baby Powder or Shower to Shower products.

“We are pleased that the verdict was upheld, and are very encouraged with the Court’s determination that the punitive damage award was not grossly excessive nor arbitrary,'” says Sandy A. Liebhard, a partner at Bernstein Liebhard LLP, a nationwide law firm representing victims of defective medical devices, drugs and consumer products.

Talcum Powder Litigation

More than 3,000 talcum powder lawsuits have been filed in U.S. courts, all of which claim that the long-term genital application of Johnson & Johnson’s products promotes the development of ovarian cancer. Missouri’s third trial concluded last October, and involved a 62-year-old woman who was diagnosed with the disease in 2012. In the decades prior to her diagnosis, Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder had been a regular part of the Plaintiff’s daily feminine hygiene routine.

Missouri’s 22nd Circuit Court has convened four talcum powder trials over the past year. Only one jury has found in favor of the defense. Plaintiffs in two other trials were awarded compensatory and punitive damages amounting to $72 million and $55 million.

Women who were diagnosed with ovarian cancer following the regular, repeated use of talc-based products for feminine hygiene purposes may be eligible to file their own talcum powder lawsuit.

Also see: Progress in Talcum Powder Multidistrict Litigation in NJ

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