Consumer products company Johnson & Johnson, who has been under fire for years in regards to the safety of its talc-based products, has been ordered by a Missouri jury to pay $110 million to a woman from Virginia who claims she developed ovarian cancer after several decades of using the company’s powders during her daily feminine hygiene routine.
According to news reports, this is the largest verdict thus far to arise from the more than 2,400 lawsuits that have been filed against Johnson & Johnson (J&J) concerning the safety of their talc-based products.
In these suits, the company in accused of not offering sufficient warning to consumers in regards to the dangers of these products and the cancer risk they present, including well-known, decades-old Johnson’s Baby Powder.
Yesterday’s verdict involved both the mega-consumer products company and their talc supplier, Imerys Talc. The suit was brought by Mrs. Lois Slemp, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012.
She is currently undergoing chemotherapy, her attorney reports, because her cancer has returned and has now spread to her liver.
Ovarian cancer is a historically deadly disease because it often takes some time for symptoms to appear and patients are not diagnosed until the cancer has reached its later stages.
Slemp claimed that her cancer was caused by her use of both Johnson’s Baby Powder and the company’s Shower-to-Shower talcum powder. Slemp told the court that she used the products for about four decades.
According to a Reuters report, the jury in the St. Louis courtroom, where several other J&J suits are pending, awarded $5.4 million in compensatory damages and said that J&J was 99 percent at fault while Imerys was just 1 percent. It awarded punitive damages of $105 million against J&J and $50,000 against Imerys.
“Once again, we’ve shown that these companies ignored the scientific evidence and continue to deny their responsibilities to the women of America,” said Ted Meadows, an attorney for Slemp and other plaintiffs with similar complaints.
Lawyers for Johnson & Johnson offered their sympathy to Slemp and her family but noted that they will appeal the verdict. A spokesperson said that the company was preparing for more trials like this one and that they would continue to defend the safety of their talc-based products, which have been used for decades by millions and millions of individuals around the world.
In March, the company enjoyed a win in a similar Johnson & Johnson cancer trial involving a Tennessee woman who claimed she developed ovarian cancer after continual use of Johnson’s Baby Powder.
Previous to that, J&J had suffered three losses in a row. In February 2016, a jury found in favor of the plaintiff if that case and awarded her $72 million.
Awards in the amounts of $55 and $70 million followed later that year.