Johnson & Johnson must pay $55 million to a 62-year-old South Dakota woman who blamed her ovarian cancer on the company’s talcum powder in the second such trial loss this year.
J&J is accused in more than 1,000 lawsuits in state and federal courts of ignoring studies linking its Shower-to-Shower product and Johnson’s Baby Powder to ovarian cancer. Women contend the company knew the risk and failed to warn customers. In February, J&J lost a $72 million verdict in the same St. Louis courthouse to the family of a woman who died of the disease.
“The more talc verdicts that come down against them adds to the public’s growing distrust of their baby powder, which is one of their iconic products,” said Carl Tobias, who teaches product-liability law at the University of Richmond in Virginia. “There are both economic and reputational issues that may motivate them to start thinking about a global settlement of these cases.”
J&J should consider setting up a settlement program to dispose of the talc cases, said Tobias, who isn’t involved in the case.
State court jurors Monday awarded $5 million in compensation and $50 million in punitive damages to Gloria Ristesund, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2011 after using J&J’s talc-based feminine hygiene products for almost 40 years. Ristesund’s cancer, after she underwent a hysterectomy, is in remission.