A state jury in Missouri ordered Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) to pay $55 million to a woman who developed an ovarian cancer after using the company’s talc-powder products for feminine hygiene.
Gloria Ristesund filed the lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson. The Missouri state court conducted a three-week trial in the case and the jurors deliberated almost a day before returning with a verdict. The jurors awarded Ristesund $5 million in actual damages and $50 million in punitive damages.
Ristesund claimed that she used Johnson & Johnson’s talc Baby Powder and Shower to Shower body powder for decades. According to her lawyers, she had to undergo hysterectomy and related surgeries after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2011. After the treatments, her cancer is now in remission, according to her lawyers.
Johnson & Johnson to appeal the verdict
Johnson & Johnson plans to appeal the verdict, which is the second straight loss for the company. Carol Goodrich, the spokesperson for the company said the judgement contradicted 30 years of research by medical experts worldwide that continue to supports the safety of cosmetic talc.
“We understand that women and families affected by ovarian cancer are searching for answers, and we deeply sympathize with all who have been affected by this devastating disease with no known cause. Johnson & Johnson has always taken questions about the safety of our products extremely seriously. Multiple scientific and regulatory reviews have determined that talc is safe for use in cosmetic products and the labeling on Johnson’s Baby Powder is appropriate,” said Goodrich in a statement.
She added, “We will appeal the recent verdict and continue to defend the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder.”
In February, a jury from the same court in Missouri awarded $72 million in damages to the family of a woman, who died from ovarian cancer that was linked to her use of the company’s talc Baby Powder and Shower to Shower for several decades.
Johnson & Johnson failed to warn consumers
Johnson & Johnson is facing around 1,200 lawsuits alleging that it failed provide consumers with adequate information and warnings regarding the cancer risks associated with its talc-based products.
Ted Meadows, a lawyer at Beasley Allen law firm said, “This second jury verdict affirms that Johnson & Johnson knew that its talcum powder products posed a risk to women’s health, but they did nothing to warn the public.”
“There are safer alternatives made with cornstarch, which Johnson & Johnson also sells. There really was no reason for them to leave this product on the market. At the very least, they could have added a warning label to alert women to the risk of ovarian cancer. This verdict sends a message that the public is tired of corporations placing their profits over our health and trust,” added Meadows.