On Tuesday, October 14, pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson won the reversal of a $72 million verdict in favor of the family of an Alabama woman who died from ovarian cancer. The victim’s family was originally awarded $72 million in a February 2016 St. Louis trial after correlating the victim’s death with her long-term use of Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products. While Johnson & Johnson has won this reversal for now, the company faces more accusations that their talc products lead to serious health risks, like ovarian cancer.
According to Reuters, Jacqueline Fox, 62, passed away from ovarian cancer in 2015, four months before the 2016 trial. Her development of ovarian cancer occurred after three decades of using Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products. Fox’s Family sued the pharmaceutical powerhouse for not adequately warning potential users about the cancer risks these talc products pose leading to the $72 million verdict.
Studies investigating the dangers of talcum powder date back to the 1970’s. The talc mineral found in popular products, including Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower, is composed of silicon and hydrated magnesium. However, talc’s purest form, has been associated with asbestos and other carcinogens due to the mineral’s close proximity in mining environments. Likewise, the American Cancer Society has conducted studies linking the use of talc products to ovarian cancer, lung cancer and endometrial cancer. These seemingly apparent risks associated with the continual use of talc-based products have prompted victims and their families to demand talc product manufacturers, like Johnson & Johnson, to provide warning labels on these products to inform consumers of the potential health risks they face when buying these products.
The Supreme Court ruled in June 2017 that state courts can only hear personal injury claims by out-of-state residents if the plaintiff suffered injury in that specific state or if the company facing accusation operates out of the same state. Thus, this past October, a three-judge panel in the Missouri Court of Appeals overturned the February 2016 ruling to be in favor of Johnson & Johnson. As stated in an article published by FindLaw, “Because Fox never should’ve been in court in St. Louis in the first place, trial court’s judgment was reversed and vacated.”
As of 2017, Johnson & Johnson faces almost 5,000 lawsuits accusing them of damages or death caused by its talc products. In the same article by Reuters, it was revealed that the $72 million originally awarded to Fox’s family was only a fraction of the $307 million total awarded to additional plaintiffs who accused Johnson & Johnson of the same fault: not warning buyers about the studied cancer risks found in their talc-based products. In a trial similar to the one involving Fox’s family, a woman in California was awarded $417 million after suffering from ovarian cancer after using Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder. However, similar to the Fox trial, the California verdict was thrown out this past October.
Fox’s family is considering an appeal after the recent overturn. In the same report from FindLaw, Ted Meadows, the lawyer for the victim’s family, stated that this reversal is a representation of “a denial of justice for the Fox family.”
If you or someone you know has suffered a personal injury or wrongful death as the result of the use of talcum powder or any other defective medical product, please contact one of our attorneys at Schneider Hammers today. We focus on your injury and suffering to ensure that you receive the settlement you deserve.