Women who won $4.7 billion in damages two years ago against the maker of one of America’s most recognized products have seen their verdict cut in half by a Missouri appeals court. Nevertheless, in a landmark decision, the court sided with the women and sustained the lower court’s 2018 ruling, AP News reported.
The court’s action gives new hope to other women who have lodged similar claims against Johnson & Johnson for continuing to manufacture and market Johnson’s Baby Powder and other products that contained asbestos-laced talc, a substance believed to cause cancer.
In finding for the plaintiffs, the St. Louis Circuit Court jury arrived at the award by multiplying the roughly $70 million J&J earned selling baby powder in a recent year by the 43 years it’s been since the company claimed the baby powder did not contain asbestos. The court reduced the amount to reflect fewer plaintiffs eligible for a share, setting the award at $2.1 billion.
Five of the 22 plaintiffs are Missouri residents or were before they died. Women who developed ovarian cancer after using J&J’s asbestos-tainted baby powder were awarded $25 million, plus $80 million in punitive damages each.
In finding for the plaintiffs, the court admonished J&J for its suspect business practices. “We find there was significant reprehensibility in defendants’ conduct,” the court wrote. “The harm suffered by plaintiffs was physical, not just economic. Plaintiffs each developed and suffered from ovarian cancer. Plaintiffs underwent chemotherapy, hysterectomies and countless other surgeries,” the court added, as reported by St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
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What This Verdict Could Mean for Other Injured People
The court’s decision struck a blow against J&J for pushing talcum powder products it knew for decades were laced with asbestos. Documents revealed that the company was aware of this deadly risk as early as 1971.
The link between talcum powder and cancer has been studied quite a bit. Most research has fit into one of two categories:
- Whether women who applied talcum powder to the genital area on a regular basis have an increased risk of ovarian cancer, and
- Whether people who had long-term exposure to talc particles at work, for instance while mining talc, are at higher risk for lung cancer for having breathed them in.
Given the outcome of the most recent court decision, it appears that the remaining 19,000 women who have lodged lawsuits against J&J may have strong legal precedent on their side.
The court’s decision may provide momentum for personal injury actions beyond the realm of talc and asbestos. Individuals who have been harmed by the actions of large manufacturers have new reason to believe their cases are valid and have merit. This may include liability when a product was purchased in good faith but turned out to be seriously harmful.
If you have been diagnosed with cancer after long-term exposure to Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder, don’t suffer in silence. You can count on the legal team at Morris, King & Hodge. We’ll review the facts, analyze the potential liability and advise you on next steps. We’ll use every available tool to seek justice, including financial justice, and any other compensation you deserve.
If it’s time to make things right, call or email us now to schedule a free consultation. Rest assured you will owe us nothing unless and until we succeed on your behalf.
Talcum Powder and Ovarian Cancer
Talcum powder is made from talc, a mineral mined for its use in cosmetic products. As a powder, it absorbs moisture well and helps cut down on friction. For this reason, it’s widely used for keeping skin dry and preventing rashes.
In its natural form, some talc contains asbestos. In 1976, the cosmetics industry adopted voluntary guidelines that all talc used in cosmetics in the United States be free from detectable amounts of asbestos.
The appellate court’s 83-page opinion details J&J’s efforts to conceal the asbestos contamination from the public. The company “worked tirelessly to ensure [that the cosmetic talc products] industry adopted testing protocols not sensitive enough to detect asbestos in every talc sample.” Of course, all it takes is one improperly tested talc sample — one from a product you purchased – to contain the asbestos that can cause cancer in you or your family members.
The court of appeals concluded that “motivated by profits, [J&J] disregarded the safety of consumers despite [the company’s] knowledge” that the talc in its products caused ovarian cancer. The court found it reasonable for the jury to conclude that J&J’s conduct “was outrageous because of evil motive or reckless indifference” to the risks.
On October 18, 2019, the company finally recalled its baby powder from the market. This was due to heavy pressure from plaintiffs’ attorneys. Although J&J continues to defend its products’ purported “safety,” it has produced no new evidence indicating that its products are in fact safe.
Contact a Talc Cancer Lawyer Today for Help
If you have been diagnosed with talc-related ovarian cancer after prolonged exposure to J&J’s products, you can count on the talc lawyers with Morris, King & Hodge. We’ll listen to your story, fully analyze your claim, answer any questions you may have and develop a strategy to pursue the results you deserve.
Call or email us now to schedule a free consultation with no obligation. If we take your case, relax knowing your interests will be served and you’ll pay us nothing until we earn a judgment or settlement in your favor.
Joe A. King, Jr., has been trying cases on behalf of injured plaintiffs or surviving families since 2000.