In May, a New York jury ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $325 million in total damages to a woman who claims that the use of its talc-based products caused her to develop a rare and aggressive form of cancer, known as mesothelioma.
Johnson & Johnson (J&J) was recently ordered to pay $325 million by a New York jury, a verdict that stands as one of the largest involving talc claims. The decision comes after a woman and her husband filed suit against the company claiming that the prolonged use of J&J’s Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower products caused her to develop a rare and aggressive form of cancer, known as pleural mesothelioma. The plaintiffs also suggested that these products once contained asbestos—a known carcinogen. J&J denied these claims.
While this case involved mesothelioma, it is similar to the 10,000-plus lawsuits alleging that J&J’s products have led women to develop ovarian cancer. A number talcum powder exposure cases have resulted in favorable jury verdicts over the course of the last four years.
A History of Verdicts
- St. Louis $72 Million: A Missouri jury ordered J&J to pay $72 million in damages to an Alabama woman who had died after suffering from cancer allegedly caused by the use of talc-based products. The lawsuit, like others of its kind, claimed that J&J knew or should have known of the harm that the products could cause, but failed to take action. The company marketed the products as safe for decades, despite internal documents demonstrating knowledge of the contrary, including a memo from a medical consultant to J&J officials that stated that anyone who denied the connection between the product and the development of cancer was “denying the obvious in the face of all evidence to the contrary.”
- St. Louis $55 Million: A South Dakota woman was awarded $5 million in compensatory damages, and $50 million in punitive damages for her claim that her decades-long use of J&J’s talc-based products caused her to develop ovarian cancer.
- St. Louis $70 Million: A total sum of $70 million in damages was awarded to a woman diagnosed with ovarian cancer three years prior to the beginning of the trial. Despite chemotherapy, radiation and surgery, the plaintiff was given a less-than-favorable prognosis for her chances of survival. The jury in the case heard statements from the plaintiff’s attorneys alleging that J&J had knowledge of “30 years of studies showing an increased risk of ovarian cancer from the use of talc.”
Out of five trials in Missouri, juries found J&J liable four times and rendered a total award of $307 million to plaintiffs. However, verdicts in the initial cases tried in St. Louis were overturned on appeal, not on the merits of the cases, but on jurisdictional grounds.
- St. Louis $110 Million: J&J was ordered to pay $110 million to a Virginia woman suffering from ovarian cancer allegedly caused by her use of talc-based products. Post-trial motions based on jurisdictional grounds were denied and the case is now on appeal.
- Los Angeles $417 Million: In August 2017, a court ordered J&J to pay $347 million in punitive damages and $70 million in compensatory damages to a California woman who claimed that the use of talc-based products led to the development of her cancer. This verdict was the largest ordered at the time of the case. A later decision by the Los Angeles Supreme Court reversed this verdict and granted J&J’s request for a new trial, asserting that the verdict was based on errors in the trial and insufficient evidence on both sides.
- New Jersey $117 Million: A court in New Brunswick, New Jersey ordered J&J and Imerys Talc America to pay $80 million in punitive damages to a man who claimed that he developed mesothelioma from his exposure to asbestos in talc-based products. The jury also awarded $37 million in compensatory damages to his wife.
- St. Louis $4.69 Billion: In a decision that was later affirmed by a trial court judge, 22 women and their families were awarded $4.69 billion for claims that the use of J&J’s talc-based products caused them to develop cancer. Six of the women included in the case had died from their condition. The verdict is the largest to date.
- New York $1.5 Million: In a settlement of the ongoing talc-based mesothelioma litigation, J&J and Imerys Talc America paid more than $1.5 million to resolve a Manhattan woman’s claim. Johnson & Johnson has since settled multiple cases with related claims.
- Oakland $29 Million: This year, J&J was ordered by to pay $29 million to a woman dying of mesothelioma. The court panel found that the company failed to warn users that its talc-based products may have been tainted with asbestos– a known carcinogen directly linked to mesothelioma. The case marked the seventh trial loss for J&J.
In March, Johnson & Johnson attempted to use its supplier’s bankruptcy to have 2,400 lawsuits transferred from state-courts to a federal court in Delaware. Prior attempts by J&J to transfer cases were denied by judges in South Carolina and California. In 2019, there are more than 20 trials scheduled in California, Missouri and Georgia.
If you or a loved one is suffering from cancer due to your prolonged use of talc-based products such as Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower, you may be eligible to pursue legal claims against the products’ manufacturer. Contact the experienced product liability attorneys at Sullivan Papain Block McGrath Coffinas & Cannavo, P.C. for a no-cost consultation.