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Johnson & Johnson Hit with Massive $417M Verdict

California Talcum Powder Cancer Trial

A Los Angeles jury issued Johnson & Johnson with a $417M verdict for failure to warn about the increased risk of ovarian cancer due to regular use of its talcum powder products. This was the first trial in California that explored the link between Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products and ovarian cancer, and surely will not be the last.

The plaintiff, 63-year-old Eva Echeverria, claims that regular, repeated use of Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder for decades, may have contributed to her terminal ovarian cancer. As a result, the jury awarded Echeverria $70 million in compensatory damages, and additionally hit Johnson & Johnson with $347 million in punitive damages, hitting a new record verdict for similar trials.

This verdict comes after numerous judgements in St. Louis, the most recent of which was a $110.5 million verdict in May to a woman who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012. Last year, three other trials in St. Louis resulted in verdicts of $72 million, $70.1 million, and $55 million.

Although this was the first trial for California, it most certainly will not be the last – more than 300 similar lawsuits are pending in California, and more than 4,500 total claims are pending in the country.

This represents an interesting case for Johnson & Johnson, primarily because the scientific evidence for a link between talcum powder use and increased risk of ovarian cancer is currently still under debate.  For example, the International Agency for Research on Cancer states it may be “possibly carcinogenic to humans,” yet the American Cancer Society maintains that there may not be an increased risk.

However, it’s important to note that this suit was not to determine whether or not talcum powder caused Echeverria’s terminal ovarian cancer – it was filed because Johnson & Johnson failed to warn Echeverria that there may be a risk involved with using their product. Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder is legally categorized as a cosmetic, and thus is not governed by the Food and Drug Administration. However, cosmetics still have labeling regulations that fall under the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act and the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. These state that the product must still be labeled accurately, including any risks to safety or your health.

How Can We Help?

If you’ve used talcum powder products regularly for an extended period of time and you’ve been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, you may be eligible for compensation and damages. Contact an personal injury attorney for guidance and consultation on the matter.