Published: Sat, July 14, 2018
Medicine | By Tracy Klein

Johnson & Johnson still battling thousands of cases involving its talcum powder

Johnson & Johnson still battling thousands of cases involving its talcum powder

A jury in a Missouri circuit court awarded $4.14 billion in punitive damages and $550 million in compensatory damages to the women, who had accused the company of failing to warn them about cancer risks associated with its baby and body powders. They also heard from the cancer survivors themselves and the loved ones of six plaintiffs who have died from their cancer.

During closing arguments, Johnson & Johnson lawyer Peter Bicks said the company for years has exceeded industry standards in testing talcum powder for asbestos and cited several scientific studies and conclusions by USA government agencies that he said found the company's products didn't contain asbestos and were safe.

Goodrich said the verdict awarding all the women the same amount despite differences in their circumstances showed evidence in the case was overwhelmed by prejudice created when so many plaintiffs are allowed to sue the company in one lawsuit.

The company has been sued by more than 9,000 women who claim its talcum powder contributed to their ovarian cancer.

Roberts said she began using Johnson & Johnson powder products as a teen for feminine hygiene purposes and was diagnosed with cancer in 2014.

Rebecca Rennison, director of public affairs and services, said: "Various studies have shown a link between using talcum powder between the legs and ovarian cancer".

"Yes, this is awful", Bicks said of the women's cancer.

"The company should pull talc from the market before causing further anguish, harm, and death from a bad disease", he added.

In some cases, large settlements have been overturned, as was the case in October when a Los Angeles judge overturned a $417 million settlement against the company on grounds that "serious misconduct" was allegedly committed by a jury.

The verdict is the largest J&J has faced to date over allegations that its talc-based products cause cancer.

The women and their families said decades-long use of baby powder and other cosmetic talc products caused their diseases. It's outrageous the games and tricks that they would go to, but that's what they would do, " Lanier said. Mineral traces in the talc aren't proof of asbestos contamination, Mr. Bicks said.

The latest case, called Ingham v. Johnson & Johnson and named for plaintiff Gail Lucille Ingham, was the first to claim that plaintiffs were heavily exposed to asbestos through years of dusting powder on their babies or themselves-and that this led them to contract ovarian cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, in its natural form, it may contain asbestos, which, when inhaled, may cause cancer in the lungs.

But several legal experts said Missouri courts, including at the appellate and supreme court level, were historically plaintiff-friendly and could prove unreceptive to J&J's arguments.

The UK-based ovarian cancer charity, Ovacome, produced a fact sheet on the issue.

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