$55 Million Federal Jury Verdict in Johnson & Johnson in Talc-Powder Products Case

There are more than 1,200 lawsuits pending against Johnson & Johnson by women who used talc powder products for feminine hygiene and now claim they developed ovarian cancer.

In a three-week trial in Missouri state court, the jurors deliberated for a day before returning a verdict in favor of the plaintiff. This is the second St. Louis, Mo., trial regarding Johnson & Johnson and baby powder talc.

In this case, Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay a total of $55 million to Gloria Ristesund of South Dakota. The jury’s verdict was made up of $5 million in compensatory damages and another $50 million in punitive damages. This verdict was entered just four months after Johnson & Johnson lost a $72 million lawsuit involving the same Johnson & Johnson baby powder talc, which has been associated with ovarian cancer.

In this case, 62-year-old Ristesund was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2011. She testified that she had been using Johnson & Johnson baby powder talc for more than 40 years.  Fortunately, Ristesund’s cancer is currently in remission. She has undergone a hysterectomy and other surgeries because of her illness.

In this lawsuit, it was alleged that Johnson & Johnson was “wrongful and negligent . . . in the research, development, testing, manufacture, production, promotion, distribution, marketing, and sale of talcum powder.”

Ristesund is just one of over 60 plaintiffs who have filed a class-action lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson, its supplier Imerys Talc America Inc. and Personal Care Products Council who are claimed to be at fault for causing ovarian cancer and other cancers.

Johnson & Johnson will appeal the $55 million verdict. In Missouri, unlike in Illinois, where unanimous jury verdicts are required, the Missouri verdict was 9 to 3 in favor of Ristesund.  Johnson & Johnson has been denying any links between the use of its baby powder talc and ovarian cancer.

A Johnson & Johnson spokesperson said, “Unfortunately, the jury’s decision goes against 30 years of studies by medical experts around the world that continue to support the safety of cosmetic talc.”

One of the attorneys for Johnson & Johnson argued that the Ristesund cancer was related to several other missed signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer, including her family history of cancer, endometriosis and the fact that she had no children.  The jury deliberated for three weeks before it reached this verdict. According to one of the jurors, she said that after the jurors had agreed, everything else was easy. She said, “We felt like they knew for decades that they should have put a warning on this product.”

This jury’s verdict against Johnson & Johnson cleared its supplier and co-defendant Imerys talc America Inc. of liability. The principal claim of liability against Johnson & Johnson and more than 1,200 remaining lawsuits in that it failed to adequately warn consumers about its talc-based products’ risks, including ovarian cancer.

As a side note, a Sioux Falls, S.D., federal jury found that the plaintiff’s ovarian cancer in that case had been caused in part by Johnson & Johnson body powder, but the plaintiff was not awarded any damages. This was a 2013 verdict.

Gloria Ristesund v. Johnson & Johnson, (St. Louis City Circuit Court, April, 2016).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling pharmaceutical defect lawsuits, Johnson & Johnson talc-powder ovarian cancer cases, medical malpractice cases, product liability cases, chemical exposure cases and toxic tort cases for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 40 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Calumet City, Chicago Heights, South Barrington, Tinley Park, Des Plaines Wilmette, Evanston, Skokie, Niles, Romeoville, Bensenville, Chicago (Rogers Park, Hegewisch, East Side, Austin, Garfield Park), Geneva, Joliet and Aurora, Illinois.

Robert D. Kreisman has been a member of the Illinois and Missouri bars since 1976.

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