J&J Lose Second Talcum Powder Cancer Case, Must Pay $55M


A jury has awarded the South Dakota plaintiff in a Johnson & Johnson talcum powder cancer lawsuit$55 million over claims that the talcum powder in the company’s products caused her ovarian cancer after years of use. This is the second multi-million dollar ruling against J&J this year.

During a three-week trial, jurors heard testimony about how plaintiff Gloria Ristesund used J&J’s talcum powder products (including Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower Powder) for genital hygiene over several decades. Lawyers recounted that Ristesund was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and had to have a hysterectomy and other surgeries performed in order to treat the cancer. The jury deliberated for 8 hours before announcing the baby powder verdict, which included $5 million in damages and $50 million in punitive damages.

Carol Goodrich, a spokesperson for J&J said that the verdict stood in contrast to 30 years of research supporting the safe use of talc and promised that the company would appeal.

Award against J&J is the second over talc powder cancer this year

The jury award follows a second multi-million dollar judgment against the company in which the family of an Alabama woman who died of ovarian cancer claimed that the cancer was related to her years of talcum powder product use. The award in that case was $72 million, including $10 million in damages and another $62 million in punitive damages, to the family of Jackie Fox. Fox’s son Martin Salter took over the case two year’s after his mother’s diagnosis.

The jury heard evidence concerning an internal memo from a company medical consultant that stated anybody who denies the risk genital talc use poses in connection to ovarian cancer is denying the obvious in the face of all evidence to the contrary. Concerns were raised about the link several years ago, according to Eva Chalas, chief of Gynecologic Oncology and Director of Clinical Cancer Services at Winthrop-University Hospital, when talc was discovered in the tissues of women with ovarian cancer. Chalas noted, however, that some cancers may have been caused by the asbestos contained in talc years ago; modern talcum powder does not contain asbestos.

Multiple lawsuits filed over J&J talcum powder products

More than 1200 lawsuits have been filed against J&J, alleging that they failed to adequately warn consumers about the potential link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer. An expert witness in an earlier case argued that as many as 10,000 women may have contracted ovarian cancer as the result of using talcum powder products for genital hygiene. The jury in that case ruled that Johnson & Johnson’s Shower to Shower was a contributing factor for her development of ovarian cancer, but did not award damages. The two major monetary awards to the more recent plaintiffs may bode well, however, for the other women who have also filed lawsuits.

Product liability lawyers from The Sanders Firm are now evaluating potential cases to file suit against Johnson & Johnson over their failure to warn about the harmful effects of talc and its link to ovarian cancer. If you believe that your cancer may be caused by one of the company’s talc products, please contact one of our New York injury attorneys at 1-800-FAIR-PLAY to learn more about your legal options. Resources

  1. The Guardian, Johnson & Johnson Loses Another Court Case Over Talcum Powder and Cancer https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/may/03/johnson-johnson-loses-another-court-case-over-talcum-powder-and-cancer
  2. USA Today, Johnson & Johnson to Pay $55 M in Second Talc-Powder Cancer Lawsuit https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/nation-now/2016/05/03/johnson-johnson-baby-powder-talc-ovarian-cancer-case-55-million/83865636/
  3. USA Today, Johnson & Johnson to Pay $72 M in Talcum Powder-Related Cancer Case https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/nation-now/2016/02/24/johnson-johnson-lawsuit-baby-powder-talcum-ovarian-cancer-link/80845030/
  4. Rapid City Journal, South Dakota Jury Ties Talc Powder to Cancer Risk https://rapidcityjournal.com/news/south-dakota-jury-ties-talc-powder-to-cancer-risk/article_78bd7792-b78c-5adb-b684-e6b2c2db10ed.html