California Jury Returns Record Verdict in Talcum Powder Cancer Case

On Monday, August 21, 2017, a jury in Los Angeles returned a verdict of $417 million against Johnson & Johnson in a case where the plaintiff alleged that her ovarian cancer had been caused by J&J’s talcum powder products such as Johnson’s Baby Powder. This is the largest talcum powder verdict to date against J&J, the world’s largest health care product company. Until now, the largest verdict was approximately $110 million, a sum awarded by a state court in St. Louis, Missouri.

The plaintiff, Eva Echeverria, currently 63 years of age, used talcum powder personal hygiene products from the 1950s, when she was 11 years old, until 2016 when she saw a story about another woman who developed ovarian cancer after using talcum powder for many years. Echeverria was diagnosed in 2007 with serous invasive ovarian cancer. Her surgeon removed a tumor the size of a softball. At the time of trial, she was hospitalized and undergoing treatment for cancer. Too sick to appear at trial, she testified by way of a previously recorded video deposition.   

In her lawsuit, Ms. Echeverria alleged that J&J failed to warn its customers of the risk of ovarian cancer related to using talcum powder for personal hygiene despite the fact that many studies had found such a risk. After 4 weeks of trial and 2 days of deliberation, the jury awarded $70 million in compensatory damages and $347 million in punitive damages. This is not only the first talcum powder case to go to trial in California, but the first talcum powder case to go to trial in any state court outside of Missouri. J&J has stated that it will appeal this decision, just as it has announced that it will appeal the four plaintiff’s verdicts that have been rendered in Missouri.

Unlike many of the plaintiffs in the Missouri cases, Ms. Echeverria is a resident of the state where her case was tried. This is significant because a recent decision by the Supreme Court of the United States limits the ability of out of state plaintiffs to file lawsuits in states where the defendant corporation is not headquartered or incorporated. If you have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer after using talcum powder products for personal hygiene, you should promptly contact experienced counsel who are familiar with the legal issues involved in product liability cases, keeping in mind that there are deadlines within such claims must be brought.

James F. Humphreys & Associates, L. C. is now accepting talcum powder cancer cases. If you have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, please contact us at 304-347-5050.   

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