In the largest verdict thus far in talc powder lawsuits, a Los Angeles jury has awarded a 63-year-old woman $417 million, finding the manufacturer of the talcum powder, Johnson & Johnson liable for failing to warn her about the risks associated with ovarian cancer.
The plaintiff, Eva Echeverria, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007. A surgeon removed a softball-sized tumor, but Echeverria is now near death and was unable to attend the trial, one of her attorneys said.
In a video-recorded deposition played for the jury, she testified she used the Johnson’s Baby Powder from age 11 until 2016, when she saw a news story about a woman with ovarian cancer who had also used the product. The talc is one of the company’s best-known products, marketed at one point with the jingle, “A sprinkle a day helps keep the odor away.”
Echeverria testified that if Johnson & Johnson, which earned a profit of $16.5 billion last year, had put a warning on the product, she would have stopped using it.
The jury deliberated two days before awarding Echeverria $70 million in compensatory damages and $347 million in punitive damages. The jury panel found there was a connection between her ovarian cancer and the baby powder.
The case centered around a 1982 study that shows women who used talc on their genitals were at a 92% increased risk for ovarian cancer. The lead researcher, Daniel W. Cramer, later advised Johnson & Johnson to put a warning label on the product.
Ovarian cancer accounts for 1.3% of all new cancer cases in the U.S., according to the National Cancer Institute. But it is the eighth most common cancer and the fifth-leading cause of cancer-related death among women. Fewer than half of all patients survive five years after a diagnosis.
The $417 million jury verdict dwarfs in comparison the earlier St. Louis jury verdict which awarded a Virginia woman $110.5 million. By then, three other St. Louis juries had awarded a total of $197 million to plaintiffs who made similar claims.
If you’ve been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and used Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder, please contact Attorney Joe Saunders for a free consultation.
Photo Credit by Austin K. via Flickr