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California Jury Awards $417 Million Against J&J in Talc Cancer Trial

jury in Los Angeles today awarded $417 million to a 63-year-old woman who developed ovarian cancer after using the Johnson & Johnson's talc-based products like Johnson's Baby Powder for feminine hygiene.

The case is Eva Echeverria v. Johnson & Johnson, No. BC628228 in Los Angeles County Superior Court. The verdict included $70 million in compensatory damages and $347 million in punitive damages.

The jury held J&J liable for failing to warn Echeverria about the cancer risks of using its talcum products, which she started using when was 11. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007.

In his opening statement, Escheverria’s attorney Mark Robinson asserted that Johnson & Johnson had known of the alleged link between talc and ovarian cancer for decades, but decided to withhold warnings from the public to protect its image.

During the trial, Jack Siemiatycki, an epidemiologist with the University of Montreal and McGill University, testified about his contributions to the 2006 monograph published by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which said talc is a possible human carcinogen. He also testified that his stance has changed since then, and that he now thinks that it is more likely than not that talc can cause ovarian cancer.

4 record-setting verdicts

Johnson & Johnson is facing 4,800 talcum powder claims in California, Missouri, New Jersey and Delaware state courts, as well as New Jersey federal court.  Juries have found the company liable four times in record-setting verdicts:

  • In May 2017, a jury in St. Louis state court delivered a bombshell $110,000,000 verdict for the plaintiff, Lois Slemp, age 62, of Virginia. She used J&J’s baby power and Shower to Shower talc products for more than 40 years before she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012.
  • On October 27, 2016, a jury awarded more than $70 million in damages to Deborah Giannecchini, 62, of Modesto, CA, on her claim that her use of baby powder and other Johnson & Johnson talc products over 40 years caused her ovarian cancer. She was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer in 2012 and talc was found in her ovaries.
  • In February 2016 a jury awarded $72 million to the family of Jacqueline Fox of Birmingham, AL, who used Johnson’s baby powder for 35 years. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2013 and died last year.
  • In May 2016, another jury in the same courthouse awarded $55 million to Gloria Ristesund of Sioux Falls, SD. She was diagnosed with cancer in 2011 after using J&J’s talc-based feminine hygiene products for almost 40 years.

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