New warning labels were evidence in $417 million talc-ovarian cancer win

LOS ANGELES – Jurors in Los Angeles who returned Monday’s $417 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) in a talc-ovarian cancer case were the first to hear evidence that other body powder sellers now warn women that genital use of talcum powder may increase ovarian cancer risks.

Johnson & Johnson has declined to provide similar warnings on its Johnson’s Baby Powder, which contains talc and has been the focus in multiple trials. Medical studies dating back more than three decades have found an association between genital application of talc and ovarian cancer.

In the latest case, jurors saw labels from Angel of Mine Baby Powder, which is available at Dollar Tree stores, and Spring Fresh Powder, which is available at Walmart, with the following warnings, respectively:
talc warning label

“Frequent application of talcum powder in the female genital area may increase the risk of ovarian cancer.”

“Medical evidence suggests that women who use talcum powder as a feminine hygiene product run a greater risk of developing ovarian cancer.”

The plaintiff in the Los Angeles case, 62-year-old Eva Echeverria, told the jury that had Johnson & Johnson placed a similar warning on its baby powder, she would not have used it.

Ms. Echeverria began daily use of Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products when she was 11 years old. Since her ovarian cancer diagnosis in 2007, she has undergone numerous surgeries and chemotherapy treatments.

“It’s very powerful to see warning labels on other talc body powder products,” said Ted Meadows, an attorney for Ms. Echeverria and principal at the Beasley Allen Law Firm in Montgomery, Alabama. “Why can’t Johnson & Johnson do the same? Why don’t they allow women the opportunity to make an informed choice?”

In Monday’s case, the jury awarded Ms. Echeverria $70 million in non-economic damages and $347 million in punitive damages. Combined with other cases in Missouri, it means that Johnson & Johnson is facing more than $720 million in verdicts related to talc litigation.

The case in California is Eva Echeverria et al. v. Johnson & Johnson et al., case number BC628228, in the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Los Angeles.

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