The first California jury to hear the evidence linking Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products and ovarian cancer returned a $417 million verdict against the giant drug company. The jury found that the talc product played a role in causing a woman’s terminal cancer. After more than two days of deliberations following the four-week trial, the Los Angeles jury returned a verdict for Plaintiff Eva Echeverria. The jury found that J&J had failed to warn consumers about the increased risk of ovarian cancer caused by its Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products, and that Ms. Echeverria’s terminal ovarian cancer was caused by her use of those products.
The jury awarded Ms. Echeverria $70 million in compensatory damages, and hit J&J and its subsidiary and co-defendant Johnson & Johnson Consumer with $347 million in punitive damages. This is by far the largest verdict against the company so far after similar trials in St. Louis and South Dakota.
Johnson & Johnson has known for decades that its talc products are dangerous. Thousands of women, including Ms. Echeverria, have been victims of some of the worst corporate conduct that I have experienced during my time as a lawyer. Ms. Echeverria filed suit with six other women in Los Angeles County Superior Court in July 2016. Ms. Echeverria used talcum powder mined by Imerys Talc America Inc. and sold by J&J for years. She developed ovarian cancer in 2007.
Ms. Echeverria began using Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder when she was 11 years old and used it every day with the exception of about a year when she used Shower to Shower. She liked the J&J Baby Powder scent better than Shower to Shower so she switched back and used it until early 2016 when she saw a news report regarding the talc verdict our lawyers got in St. Louis on behalf of Jacqueline Fox.
Ms. Echeverria has one daughter, Elisha, who has been by her side helping take care of her during her disease. Ms. Echeverria feels as though she robbed Elisha of her childhood since Elisha was only 16 when her mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
Dr. Mabel Vasquez first diagnosed Ms. Echeveria in 2007 and then referred her to a Gynecologic Oncologist, Dr. Annie Yessaian, who testified in the trial that talc was a cause of her disease. In April 2007, Ms. Echeverria underwent total hysterectomy and chemotherapy. She was in remission for nine months. In 2008, Ms. Echeverria was diagnosed with reoccurrence and since then has been through countless chemotherapy treatments.
Ms. Echeverria is represented by Mark P. Robinson Jr., Kevin F. Calcagnie, Scot Wilson and Cynthia Garber of Robinson Calcagnie Inc.; Allen Smith of The Smith Law Firm; Ted Meadows, David Dearing and Ryan Beattie of Beasley Allen Law Firm; Helen Zukin from Kiesel Law Firm; and Michelle A. Parfitt of Ashcraft & Gerel LLP.
Our talc litigation team, headed by Ted Meadows, is dedicated to carrying this fight to a conclusion. Other lawyers on the team include David Dearing and Ryan Beattie. Leigh O’Dell is leading the MDL effort in New Jersey. Katie Tucker, a paralegal, has been involved with the team from the beginning and has done a tremendous job.