In a $72 million verdict announced this week, a jury found Johnson & Johnson liable for fraud, negligence and conspiracy in the case of a woman who died from ovarian cancer.
The ovarian cancer that killed Jacqueline Fox was allegedly caused by her use of Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder and Shower to Shower for feminine hygiene for decades. She died in October at the age of 62. Johnson & Johnson was accused of failing to inform consumers about the dangers of talc, which is found in baby powder and other powders.
The issue was not only whether the talcum powder contributed to the woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer, but rather how the company dealt with the matter when faced with a product safety issue. Fox’s attorney stated to the press that Johnson & Johnson new of the risk as far back as the 1980s, yet lied to the public and regulatory agencies about the dangers.
The Associated Press reported on an internal company memo from a Johnson & Johnson media consultant that stated “anybody who denies” the risk of using hygienic talc and ovarian cancer is “denying the obvious in the face of all evidence to the contrary.”
The jurors in a St. Louis court awarded the family of Fox, who was from Alabama, $10 million of actual damages and $62 million of punitive damages. Johnson & Johnson faces hundreds of lawsuits claiming that, in an effort to boost sales, the company failed for decades to warn consumers that its talc-based products could cause cancer.
Talc, the primary ingredient in talcum powder, is chemically similar to asbestos. Asbestos could be found in talcum powder until the 1970’s when it was removed from all products found in the U.S. According to the American Cancer Society’s website, it has been suggested that talcum powder might cause cancer in the ovaries if the powder particles (applied to the genital area or on sanitary napkins, diaphragms, or condoms) were to travel through the vagina, uterus, and Fallopian tubes to the ovary.
Long history of linking talcum powder to ovarian cancer
For more than 40 years there have been suspicions that the use of talcum powder for feminine hygiene is connected to the development of ovarian cancer. The first study examining this link between talc and ovarian cancer happened in 1971, when researchers found talc in ovarian tumors. In 1982, Dr. Daniel Cramer, a Harvard University epidemiologist, first published a report on a potential link between talc and ovarian cancer. He has published several studies since, and his work suggests that talc exposure increases the risk of ovarian cancer, a rare disease, by 30 percent overall. The highest risk was for woman who used talc powder the longest.
The first ovarian cancer talcum powder lawsuit was won against Johnson & Johnson in 2013 when a jury in South Dakota found that a woman’s use of Johnson & Johnson products that contained talc contributed to her ovarian cancer. The jury said in that case that Johnson & Johnson should warn consumers do the link between ovarian cancer and the use of talc-based powder for feminine hygiene.
Ovarian cancer statistics
According to the American Cancer Society, about 14,240 women will die from ovarian cancer this year and 22,280 new diagnoses will be made in women. Ovarian cancer ranks fifth in cancer deaths among women. A woman’s risk of getting ovarian cancer during her lifetime is about 1 in 75. Her lifetime chance of dying from ovarian cancer is 1 in 100.
Personal injury lawyers fighting for the victims of corporate negligence
The risk of ovarian cancer for women is high enough without the added risk of a company, such as Johnson & Johnson, not informing the public of a possible risk or danger involving a particular product. The personal injury attorneys at Fellerman & Ciarimboli in Philadelphia and Wilkes-Barre have a long history of fighting for those injured through corporate negligence and corporate greed, as in the case against Johnson & Johnson. If you have been injured due to the negligence of a person or an organization, call the injury lawyers at Fellerman & Ciarimboli today, and we will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Call our Philadelphia negligence attorneys at 215-575-9237 or our Wilkes-Barre negligence attorneys at 570-714-HURT.
With more than 40 years of combined experience, the personal injury attorneys at Fellerman & Ciarimboli strive to provide the best service to clients in Philadelphia, Northeast Pennsylvania, and throughout the Keystone State.