Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury Law Blog

$70 Million Verdict Against Talcum Powder Maker Brings Total Awards to Nearly $200 Million

Posted by Briggs Bedigian | Nov 07, 2016 | 0 Comments

Yet another jury has awarded millions to a woman diagnosed with cancer from using baby powder.

Plaintiffs have been awarded nearly $200 million in three trials so far against Johnson & Johnson, makers of the powder containing talc that has been blamed for multiple cases of ovarian cancer.

In the late October verdict, a 63-year-old California woman who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012, was awarded $70.1 million by a St. Louis jury. Before being diagnosed with cancer, the victim said she had used Johnson's Baby Powder for 45 years.

Talc is a mineral that can be crushed into a white powder widely known as talcum powder, which has the ability to absorb moisture, oils, and odors. It also serves as a lubricant and produces an astringent effect on human skin. Talcum powder is an ingredient in many baby powders, foot powders, first aid powders and a variety of cosmetics.

In two other St. Louis based trials, juries awarded plaintiffs $72 million and $55 million. The 2015 lawsuit that ended in the $72 million award, was brought by the family of an Alabama woman who died after decades of using baby powder. The jury reached its decision after hearing testimony that the company had been aware, for years, about a possible link between talcum powder and cancer, and in response, had increased marketing of its baby powder to consumers of color.

A class action lawsuit was brought in Illinois in 2014 against Johnson & Johnson by women who did not have cancer but said they should have been warned about the potential risks of using baby powder. The class action came on the heels of a 2013 South Dakota case in which a federal jury decided against a woman who had cancer, blaming her for using the product. The jury, in that case, did, however, say Johnson & Johnson should warn consumers about the potential risk of cancer from using its powder.

New Jersey-based Johnson & Johnson is a $70-billion pharmaceutical and consumer products company. It faces another 2,000 or so lawsuits for talc-related illnesses. The next trial is expected to begin early next year in St. Louis. However, the company scored a couple of recent victories when a New Jersey judge threw out two cases against the company, ruling there was inadequate evidence talc caused cancer. Despite the millions awarded in the three cases so far, the company maintains its products are safe and it is appealing the jury verdicts.

In the last three years, Johnson & Johnson has spent more than $5 billion to resolve legal claims over its drugs and medical devices, according to Bloomberg News. Settlements include:

  • $2.2 billion related to criminal and civil investigations into illegally marketing an antipsychotic drug and two other medications.
  • $2.8 billion related to artificial hips.
  • $120 million for faulty vaginal-mesh inserts.

Last year more than 75,000 people filed product liability claims against the company, besides the case involving baby powder.

If you have been negatively affected by the use of a medical or personal care product or if a loved one has died as the result, you may be entitled to compensation. Call the offices of trial attorneys Charles Gilman and Briggs Bedigian at 800-529-6162 or contact them online. The firm handles cases in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.

About the Author

Briggs Bedigian

H. Briggs Bedigian (“Briggs”) is a founding partner of Gilman & Bedigian, LLC.  Prior to forming Gilman & Bedigian, LLC, Briggs was a partner at Wais, Vogelstein and Bedigian, LLC, where he was the head of the firm's litigation practice.  Briggs' legal practice is focused on representing clients involved in medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. 

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