A Missouri jury has awarded $72 million to the family of an Alabama woman who died from ovarian cancer, which she said was caused by using Johnson & Johnson’s well-known baby powder and other products containing talcum.
A Fox attorney said the jury verdict, which came Monday night after nearly five hours of deliberations at the conclusion of a three-week trial, was the first such case among more than 1,000 nationally to result in a jury’s monetary award.
Attorney James Onder said he “Absolutely” expects Johnson & Johnson – the world’s biggest maker of healthcare products – to appeal the verdict.
The New Jersey-based company previously has been targeted by health and consumer groups over possibly harmful ingredients in items including its Johnson’s No More Tears baby shampoo.
In May 2009, a coalition of groups called the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics began pushing Johnson & Johnson to eliminate questionable ingredients from its baby and adult personal care products.
Spokeswoman Carol Goodrich said Tuesday that Johnson & Johnson was considering its next legal move.
At trial, Fox’s attorneys introduced into evidence a September 1997 internal memo from a Johnson & Johnson medical consultant suggesting that “Anybody who denies [the] risks” between “Hygienic” talc use and ovarian cancer will be publicly perceived in the same light as those who denied a link between smoking cigarettes and cancer: “Denying the obvious in the face of all evidence to the contrary.”
It’s widely used in cosmetics and personal care products, such as talcum powder, to absorb moisture, prevent caking and improve the product’s feel.
The verdict Monday “Doesn’t bode well for Johnson & Johnson” as it faces at least 1,200 still-pending lawsuits and possibly thousands more, she said.