One of the legal issues we track on this blog is talcum powder litigation. We’ve previously discussed the challenges plaintiffs face in presenting strong evidence of causation in these cases. As we’ve noted, though, strong circumstantial evidence of the connection between talcum powder use and ovarian cancer, and a sympathetic jury, can make all the difference for plaintiffs.
This certainly seems to have been the case in a California talcum powder case decided earlier this week. The 63-year-old woman who brought the lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson was reportedly awarded $417 million for her ovarian cancer diagnosis.
At present, there are over 5,000 lawsuits filed against Johnson & Johnson alleging a connection between its baby powder product and ovarian cancer. Although studies looking at the issue have not provided conclusive evidence supporting the connection, the circumstantial evidence has been strong enough that the company has been losing some of its cases. Three prior lawsuits in other states resulted in significant verdicts for plaintiffs.
In the case decided this week, the woman claims to have been using Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder and other talc-containing products since the 1950s. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007. Her claim alleges that the company has known that talcum powder is carcinogenic for decades, perhaps as early as the 1960s. The asbestos content of talcum powder is thought to be the culprit.
Johnson & Johnson is apparently planning on appealing the jury verdict. In our next post, we’ll look a bit further at this case, and the legal issue of the duty to warn as highlighted by these cases.