Johnson & Johnson Ordered to Pay Record Lawsuit Award in Baby Powder Case
Update: May 5, 2017
A St. Louis court has ruled in favor of another woman who has sued Johnson & Johnson, claiming that use of its baby powder resulted in ovarian cancer. Lois Slemp of Virginia, 62, has been awarded $110.5 million in damages. According to the Associated Press, this is the largest settlement in a string of Johnson & Johnson baby powder cases. There are about 2,000 lawsuits nationwide related to women using Johnson & Johnson's talcum-based baby powder for feminine hygiene and then developing adverse effects. Slemp used the product for 40 years and developed ovarian cancer in 2012. Unfortunately, according to her lawyers, Slemp is currently "too sick" to make a statement after this week's verdict.
Update: April 4 2016
Following the verdict below, now more than 1,000 women are suing the company, as well as its supplier Imerys Talc America, over covering up the risks of ovarian cancer linked to use of its baby powder. The next trial is set to begin on April 11 in St. Louis. According to Bloomberg, Johnson & Johnson has spent more than $5 billion since 2013 to resolve legal claims against its products.
Last year, the family of Jacqueline Fox sued Johnson &
Johnson after the Alabama woman died of ovarian cancer that she developed from
using the company’s baby powder and body powder products. On Monday, a jury in St. Louis awarded the
family $72 million in damages. This is
the first verdict in more than 1,000 national cases linked to these products.
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According to the suit, Fox developed terminal ovarian cancer
after 35 years of using the company’s talc-based products for feminine hygiene. According to the case, a pathologist found that the talc had inflamed Fox's ovaries, which then developed into cancer. Jere Beasley, a lawyer for Fox’s family, says that
Johnson & Johnson has known for decades, since the 1980s, about the risk of
talc-based products causing cancer, yet had lied to the public and regulatory
agencies in an effort to boost sales.
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The company issued a statement to Reuters after the verdict: "We have no higher responsibility than the health and safety of consumers, and we are disappointed with the outcome of the trial. We sympathize with the plaintiff's family, but firmly believe the safety of cosmetic talc is supported by decades of scientific evidence."
According to the American Cancer Society, the link between applying talcum powder regularly as a feminine hygiene product and an increased risk of ovarian cancer is a known concern. Study results thus far have been mixed, and the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies that type of use of talc-based body powder as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” To be safe, the American Cancer Society suggests using cornstarch-based products instead because “there is no evidence at this time linking cornstarch powders with any form of cancer.”