What is the Current Status of Baby Powder Ovarian Cancer Litigation?

How Many Cases Is Johnson & Johnson Facing Across the Nation?

December 07, 2019 - While most of us immediately recognize the distinctive fragrance of Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder with talc, not all of us may know there is much more lurking behind the product than the smell of innocence. For over a century, J & J has touted its signature baby powder with talc as being gentle enough for a baby’s bottom. While the talcum powder may only represent a tiny portion of the pharmaceutical and cosmetic giant’s business, it has nonetheless been a cornerstone of the company’s reputation. It is now very likely that J & J was aware of the concerns related to talc fibers in the powder, potentially causing ovarian cancer.

Women have been using J & J baby powder with talc for decades for feminine hygiene purposes. Medical research has shown that these talc fibers may travel through a woman’s reproductive system, reaching the ovaries. At that point, the fibers embed themselves into the ovaries, eventually causing ovarian cancer. J & J has lost big in several of the baby powder ovarian cancer lawsuits but has yet to offer a settlement.  

How Many Baby Powder Ovarian Cancer Cases Is J & J Facing? There are currently about 20,000 talcum powder ovarian cancer cases pending throughout the country in state and federal courts; two-thirds of those are in federal court. The talcum powder ovarian cancer federal MDL is being held in New Jersey before Judge Freda Wolfson, with about 13,500 cases—a number which is growing by the day. More than 2,000 cases have been filed in state courts, including California. There have also been baby powder ovarian cancer class action lawsuits filed as well. As women across the nation continue to be diagnosed with ovarian cancer, it is likely the numbers will continue to grow.

J & J Baby Powder Ovarian Cancer Settlements and Reversals - The timeline for J & J baby powder ovarian cancer settlements and reversals includes:

  • The first lawsuit against J & J for baby powder ovarian cancer was filed in South Dakota in 2013. While the jury agreed J & J’s talcum powder was responsible for Deane Burg’s ovarian cancer, they awarded no damages.
  • The second lawsuit filed against J & J was in St. Louis as a wrongful death claim by the family of Jacqueline Fox, who died from ovarian cancer. The jury awarded high monetary damages but the award was later reversed, with the judge stating there was error of law occurring at trial, as well as misconduct of the jury, leading to excessive damages.
  • In 2016, Gloria Ristesund was awarded a substantial award by a St. Louis jury for her diagnosis of ovarian cancer. The verdict was overturned in 2018 after an appeals court found the verdict could not stand following a 2017 U.S. Supreme Court decision that limits where companies can be sued for personal injuries—state courts cannot hear claims against companies which are not based in the state.
  • Eva Echeverria was awarded significant damages for her diagnosis of ovarian cancer however, the award was later reversed, with the judge stating there was error in law occurring at trial and misconduct of the jury, leading to excessive damages.
  • A St. Louis jury awarded Deborah Giannecchini high monetary damages for her diagnosis of ovarian cancer.
  • A St. Louis jury awarded Lois Slemp a significant award for her diagnosis of ovarian cancer; this verdict was overturned in October 2019 because the Missouri court lacked the authority to judge the case. 
  • In July 2018, a St. Louis jury awarded huge money damages to 22 women and their families who claimed the asbestos in J & J talcum powder contributed to their ovarian cancer. J & J has asked for a reversal in the case, which was denied, but the company plans to appeal. Since this is a huge settlement—and since settlements of this size are often overturned—it is fairly likely this verdict will be overturned.

While there have been a number of reversals, none of these reversals were based on scientific grounds. In October 2019, a California state court sided with J & J in a talcum powder asbestos claim. In September 2019, a New Jersey jury awarded plaintiffs significant money damages, after a judge made the decision to strike J & J’s entire closing argument. A second phase of the New Jersey trial will determine punitive damages sometime before the end of the year. Later in September, a Los Angeles jury returned a substantial monetary verdict to Nancy Cabibi for her talcum powder asbestos claim. In October, a mistrial was declared in the Brower v. Johnson & Johnson claim, after the jury remained deadlocked.

How a Baby Powder Ovarian Cancer Lawyer Can Help - Those who have suffered injury (specifically, ovarian cancer), after using Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder with talc, could benefit from speaking to an experienced baby powder ovarian cancer lawyer. Your baby powder ovarian cancer lawyer can properly evaluate your case, ensure all appropriate documents are filed in a timely manner and will guide you through the process, answering any questions you might have. 

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Author: Andrew Sullo
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