A California woman was awarded more than $70 million by a St. Louis judge in a verdict against Johnson & Johnson over its talcum powder's link with cancer. On Thursday, the company lost a third straight trial after three hours of deliberations.
About 1,700 lawsuits in state and federal courts have been filed against Johnson & Johnson for failing to warn consumers that its baby powder and Shower-to-Shower talc products may cause ovarian cancer. Earlier this year, the company lost $72 million and $55 million in the first two talc claims in St. Louis.
The third trial related to claims by Deborah Giannecchini, who used Johnson & Johnson's baby powder for feminine hygiene for more than four decades until she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer three years ago. The lawyers of the 62-year-old said that she has an 80 percent chance of dying in the next two years despite undergoing surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, Bloomberg reported.
The court has ordered the company to pay Giannecchini $65 million in punitive damages and 90 percent of about $2.5 million for medical costs and suffering. Imerys Talc America, the supplier of the talc, faces $2.5 million in punitive damages.
“It seemed like Johnson & Johnson didn’t pay attention,” one juror, Billie Ray, 76, of St. Louis, reportedly said, adding that a warning label should have been placed on talc containers to let consumers know about the risks. “It seemed like they didn’t care.”
The victim said that she was overwhelmed by the verdict as she "waited for a long time for this ... I’ve wanted this so badly."
Johnson & Johnson's spokeswoman Carol Goodrich said that the company will appeal the verdict, denying any link to talc use and ovarian cancer: “We are guided by the science, which supports the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder."
“Science, research, clinical evidence and decades of studies by medical experts around the world continue to support the safety of cosmetic talc,’’ Goodrich said before the verdict, according to Bloomberg.
During the trial, Giannecchini’s lawyer, Allen Smith, told jurors that the company was aware of “30 years of studies showing an increased risk of ovarian cancer from the use of talc. They knew, and they knew the public was unaware of the risk.” Johnson & Johnson “developed a defense strategy to prevent government regulation of its products,” instead of warning consumers, Smith reportedly said.