Lawyers representing women whose ovarian cancers have been tied to the use of body powders containing talc say that efforts by corporate-funded defense lawyers to label Missouri courts as “judicial hellholes” are misguided and insulting to juries.
In the past year, three separate juries in St. Louis, Missouri, sent a strong message to Johnson & Johnson – makers of the talc-based Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower Body Powder – with three sizable awards: $72 million in February, $55 million in May, and $70 million in October.
“We could try these cases in any number of jurisdictions across the country, and jurors would reach the same conclusion,” said Ted Meadows, principal at Beasley Allen Law Firm in Montgomery, Alabama, who represents women against Johnson & Johnson. “It’s not the location that makes a venue difficult for corporations like J&J, it’s the facts.”
“These attacks on the civil justice system are trumpeted each year by organizations that are bought and paid for by corporate interests,” said Allen Smith of Mississippi-based The Smith Law Firm, who has represented a number of the cancer victims. “These corporations are motivated by self-interest to fight against the rights of innocent victims in the court of public opinion. That’s what this is all about.”
Scientific research, including more than 20 well-executed scientific studies, shows that women who have ever used talcum powder for genital hygiene are at a 30-60 percent increased risk of developing ovarian cancer compared to those who have never used it. In the U.S., ovarian cancer affects about 24,000 women a year and is the fifth leading cause of cancer death among women. One medical expert calculates that this use of talcum powder leads to nearly 10 percent of the new ovarian cancer cases reported annually, and it is estimated that 1,400 women die from talc-related ovarian cancer each year.
This modifiable risk factor, if eliminated, could prevent the diagnosis and save the lives of thousands of women each year. Yet Johnson & Johnson has ignored and attempted to discredit these scientific studies and still refuses to provide warning labels on talc-containing products about the link between talc and ovarian cancer.