Published: Thu, August 24, 2017
Medical | By Carla Vaughn

California court awards $417 million in talcum powder lawsuit

California court awards $417 million in talcum powder lawsuit

A woman accused Johnson & Johnson that she developed ovarian cancer because of the use of the baby talc so, Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay $417m to that woman. Some studies have found a small to moderate increase in cancer risk, but these studies tend to rely on women self-reporting. "Ovarian cancer is a devastating diagnosis and we deeply sympathize with the women and families impacted by this disease". Asbestos, a known cancer-causing agent, naturally forms in talcum powder.

Harvard University epidemiologist Daniel Cramer has published several studies, beginning in 1982, that found a link between talc exposure and increased ovarian cancer. Combined with other cases in Missouri, it means that Johnson & Johnson is facing more than $720 million in verdicts related to talc litigation. But asbestos hasn't been present in talcum powder in the United States since the 1970s. When she found out about the product's potential risks previous year, she stopped using it.

The case is Echeverria et al v. Johnson & Johnson, Los Angeles Superior Court, No. BC628228. J&J, which faces 5,500 claims in USA courts, has lost four previous jury verdicts in St Louis for a total of $300 million.

According to the plaintiff's attorney, she said she isn't doing it for herself and that she doesn't need sympathy, because she knows that she will pass away soon, but wants to raise awareness and do good for women before then. The company has been hit with verdicts as high as $110 million. "We are guided by the science, which supports the safety of Johnson's Baby Powder, " she said.

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"J&J needs to see they not only have verdicts against them in St. Louis; they now also have them in Los Angeles", Mark Robinson, Echeverria's lawyer, told Bloomberg.

She had blamed her illness on her use of the company's talcum powder-containing products for more than 40 years. J&J finally won one of the cases in March and plans to appeal all of the other verdicts. "While no amount of money can make up for her suffering, we believe that this jury has sent a clear message to Johnson & Johnson that its conduct in regards to talc and ovarian cancer was unacceptable", says Sandy A. Liebhard, a partner at Bernstein Liebhard LLP, a nationwide law firm representing victims of defective medical devices, drugs and consumer products.

Bloomberg, which tallies large verdicts and settlements, says that yesterday's jury verdict was the third-largest of 2017.

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