Jury finds Johnson & Johnson, Imerys liable for $70 million in third ovarian cancer talc trial

posted on:
October 27, 2016

author:
Staff

A third jury in City of St. Louis Circuit Court found Johnson & Johnson liable for injuries resulting from the use of its talc-containing products such as Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower body powder for feminine hygiene. For the first time, the jury also held Johnson & Johnson talc supplier Imerys liable for damages as well. The jury awarded Plaintiff Deborah Giannecchini $70.075 million after agreeing the products contributed to the development of her ovarian cancer. The verdict includes $575,000 in medical damages, $2 million in compensatory damages, and $65 million in punitive damages against Johnson & Johnson and $2.5 million in punitive damages against Imerys.

Ms. Giannecchini was 59 when she was diagnosed with Stage IV ovarian cancer four years ago. Since then, she has gone through multiple surgeries and chemotherapy regimens. Ms. Giannecchini used Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder for feminine hygiene for more than 40 years.

Earlier this year, two previous St. Louis juries awarded verdicts to our clients Jacqueline Fox for $72 million and Gloria Ristesund for $55 million. In each case it was concluded that talc exposure causes ovarian cancer.

“Yet another jury has heard the evidence outlining a link between Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products and ovarian cancer, and has decided that there is a clear connection,” said Beasley Allen lawyer Ted Meadows, who had been helping to lead the litigation. “When is enough going to be enough? Despite repeated verdicts that hold the company accountable, Johnson & Johnson has refused to remove its talcum powder products from shelves, has refused to warn consumers about the risk, and continues to deny its responsibility. It’s time for this company to come clean and put consumer health ahead of profits.”

Prior to the trial’s start, Johnson & Johnson made a desperate move to delay by removing the case to federal court – for the second time. After an expedited hearing, the federal judge promptly remanded the case back to the City of St. Louis Circuit Court the day before pretrial hearings began. Then at trial, Johnson & Johnson tried to prevent the jury from hearing testimony from a whistleblower witness who said the company instructed her to alter Baby Powder adverse event reports, which are sometimes used by FDA to assess whether a product is associated with a disease such as cancer. Johnson and Johnson also revealed, for the first time in this trial, that FDA suddenly took interest in this litigation immediately following the $72 million Fox verdict earlier this year. Despite a request by FDA, J&J only produced favorable information and didn’t provide FDA with the entire body of scientific literature, nor did they provide FDA with the same internal documents juries have seen.

An estimated 25,000 women are diagnosed each year with ovarian cancer, and more than 15,000 die. The disease strikes about one in 70 women, though studies show that women who use talc-containing products on their genitals as a daily hygiene habit have a 30 to 60 percent increased risk of developing ovarian cancer. An expert at trial testified that in the last 34 years, since the time of the first epidemiological study in 1982, approximately 127,500 women have died as a result of ovarian cancer that could be attributed to talcum powder use on the genitals, and an estimated 1,500 women will die within the next year as a result of talc use.

Plaintiffs were represented by Jere L. Beasley, Ted G. Meadows, David P. Dearing, Danielle Ward Mason, Ryan Beattie and Lauren Razick from Beasley Allen, along with the law firms of Allen Smith; Onder, Shelton, O’Leary and Peterson, LLC; and Porter Malouf.

For more information, please contact Helen Taylor at helen.taylor@beasleyallen.com.

Legal Documents

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