Baby Powder Lawsuit Plaintiff Awarded $55 Million
The second Johnson & Johnson's baby powder ovarian cancer lawsuit to stand trial before the City of St. Louis Circuit Court was awarded $55 million in damages by the jury, the second eight-figure sum given to a talcum powder plaintiff in 2016.
Tuesday, May 3, 2016 - The second talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuit to stand trial before the City of St. Louis Circuit Court ended with another hefty decision found against Johnson & Johnson when the jury awarded $55 million in damages to plaintiff Gloria Ristesund. It was another large defeat for the pharmaceutical company, which less than three months ago was hit with $72 million in damages by a jury hearing a similar Johnson & Johnson's baby powder lawsuit. The two decisions against Johnson & Johnson act as positive news for the more than 1,000 talcum powder cancer lawsuits currently pending nationwide. The outcome also sent a strong message regarding the legal atmosphere surrounding claims that the company was aware of significant cancer research into its talcum powder products and was negligent in informing and protecting their consumer base.
Ristesund is a 62-year-old woman from South Dakota who filed a baby powder lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson after she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2011 after roughly 40 years of regular, genital use of talcum powder. Ristesund and her talcum powder lawyers claim that Johnson & Johnson had been aware of the link between their baby powder merchandise and ovarian cancer for years and choose not to update warning labels in the interest of protecting the marketability of their products.
The first plaintiff to bring similar claims against Johnson & Johnson before the City of St. Louis Circuit Court, Jacqueline Fox, passed away from her ovarian cancer a handful of months before the trial began. In February, a jury awarded her estate $10 million in compensatory funds, while Johnson & Johnson got hit with $62 million in punitive damages. Ristesund figures were a bit more conservative, as her compensatory funds totaled $5 million while Johnson & Johnson was penalized the remaining $50 million.
There are at least 1,200 talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits that share similar claims as the ones brought by Ristesund and Fox. Experts following the case suggest that it may be in the best interest of Johnson & Johnson to set up a lump sum settlement to resolve the standing claims against the company instead of risking more eight-figure losses in court. This will prove to be a costly endeavor, however, as news of the most recent plaintiff awards spreads throughout the country and is expected to spur an increase in Johnson & Johnson's baby powder lawsuits filed against the company.
There is more than four decades of research that has been conducted into the link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer, with many recent medical studies estimating a 30 percent increased risk of contracting the disease for women who employ regular, genital use of the substance. Plaintiffs have brought these medical studies as evidence against Johnson & Johnson in their talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits.
Johnson & Johnson's baby powder lawyers representing the plaintiffs also discovered documents from the health care giant that indicates the company had been alerted and aware of the link between their talcum powder products and ovarian cancer internally. These pieces of evidence served as central components to the two massive awards won by plaintiffs thus far in 2016 and their impact will likely influence how Johnson & Johnson decides to deal with the prospect of facing the hundreds of talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits waiting for them in the near future.