The attorney representing the estate of a woman who received $417 million in damages after a jury found Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder caused her fatal ovarian cancer says he will appeal a California appellate court’s decision to grant the company a new trial.
While upholding the district court’s ruling for a new trial for the now-deceased plaintiff, Eva Echeverria, the three-judge panel from the Second District Court of Appeals stated that evidence indicated the company failed to warn about the risks of using talcum powder on the genitals, although the decision found that J&J did not act with malice, negating a punitive damages award in the case.
According to the ruling, “substantial evidence supported the jury’s finding that talcum powder was a substantial factor in causing Echeverria’s cancer.”
Ms. Echeverria and six other women filed a lawsuit Los Angeles Superior Court in July 2016 alleging that talc mined by Imerys Talc America, Inc., and used in products sold by Johnson & Johnson caused them to develop ovarian cancer.
Echeverria was diagnosed with the disease in 2007 after years of using Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower body powder for feminine hygiene. Hers became the first trial among hundreds that are consolidated in California.
After the four-week trial, a Los Angeles jury found that Johnson & Johnson failed to warn that its talcum powder products could increase the risk of ovarian cancer when used on the genitals, and that the products were the cause of Echeverria’s cancer. She was awarded $70 million in compensatory damages and $347 million in punitive damages.
In October, shortly after Echeverria died, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Maren E. Nelson ruled that Echeverria’s case didn’t place blame on Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc., the subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson that actually made and marketed the company’s talcum powder products beginning in 1967. He also found that punitive damages in the case were not warranted since Echeverria didn’t prove malice.
Echeverria’s attorney said he will appeal the decision to the California Supreme Court.
The attorneys in our Mass Torts section have been privileged to represent thousands of women who developed ovarian cancer after using talcum powder in the genital area. Beasley Allen’s Talc Litigation team has partnered with other law firms around the country to take these cases to court. Ted Meadows is heading up the talc trial team, and Leigh O’Dell is serving as co-lead counsel for consolidated multidistrict litigation (MDL) in New Jersey federal court.