Jury awards $12M In Talc Suit against J&J, Colgate

(June 13, 2019)A California jury ruled yesterday that asbestos in Johnson & Johnson and Colgate Palmolive’s talcum powder products likely caused a woman’s cancer. The jury awarded the dying woman $12 million. It was the latest of several cases J&J has lost over its Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower talc products. Thousands of similar lawsuits remain pending across the country instate and federal courts.

The 12-member state court jury deliberated for five days before concluding it is more likely than not that J&J’s baby powder and Shower to Shower, along with Colgate’s Cashmere Bouquet, contained asbestos that caused Ms. Patricia Schmitz’s mesothelioma.

Negligence, Design Defect, Failure to Warn, Concealment
The jury found both companies liable for negligence, design defect, failure to warn, and concealment.  The jury did not determine whether J&J and Colgate acted with “malice, oppression or fraud.”  Such a finding could have warranted punitive damages. The jury were also unable to find J&J liable for another intentional misrepresentation claim for advertising company talc products as “pure,” in spite of knowing they could be contaminated with asbestos.

The $12M  jury award included approximately $2 million in economic damages and $10 million in noneconomic damages. The jury found J&J 30 percent responsible, its subsidiary Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. 10 percent responsible.  The jury found Colgate 40 percent responsible. They also found non-party Avon Products Inc. 20 percent responsible.

The highly contentious trial began back on April 23 in Oakland, California. Ms. Schmitz claimed  decades of exposure to J&J and Colgate talcum products was a substantial factor in causing her cancer. The 61-year-old was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2018. Her attorneys told the jury that she is not expected to live past this summer (2019).

J&J Execs knew Talc contained Asbestos

The jury heard wildly-conflicting expert testimony from mineralogists, pathologists, epidemiologists, microbiologists, and microscopists. Ms. Schmitz’s experts and attorneys pointed to dozens of internal corporate documents since the 1960s which they claimed show Colgate and J&J executives knew their companies’ talc products could contain asbestos.

Ms. Schmitz’s attorneys argued that the companies’ corporate executives downplayed the risks, skewed lab results, promoted imprecise talc testing methods, refused to replace talc with non-toxic cornstarch, failed to warn consumers and federal regulators.

Both sides complained to Judge Frank Roesch throughout the proceedings that their opponent had mentioned topics which he had specifically excluded from trial. On two occasions, J&J attorneys asked the judge to declare a mistrial.  He rejected both mistrial bids, called the second request “ridiculous.”

Sanctions for J&J Attorney?

Judge Roesch said during closings that he would entertain a request for sanctions against J&J’s counsel Alexander Calfo.  The plaintiff’s attorneys argued that J&J’s attorney, Mr. Calfo, repeatedly violated the judge’s pretrial orders during J&J’s closing arguments. They also argued that he  attacked the court. A June 25 date is set to hear that motion.

Growing List of Verdicts against J&J for Talc Products

This latest verdict adds to a growing list of plaintiffs’ wins in jury trials over claims that J&J’s talc products were contaminated with asbestos and caused their users’ cancers.

Earlier in 2019, another California jury awarded a woman and her family nearly $29.5 million over similar claims against J&J and talc supplier Cyprus Mines. In 2018, a New Jersey jury awarded Stephen Lanzo III and his wife $117 million. State judges in both cases have since refused to throw out or reduce the verdicts.

In May 2019, a New York jury hit J&J and its talc supplier with a $325 million verdict that included $300 million in punitive damages. That jury found the company’s talc powder likely caused Donna Olson’s pleural mesothelioma.  In a similar case in South Carolina, however, a jury cleared J&J of similar allegations.

J&J currently faces a federal probe and federal multidistrict litigation in New Jersey over claims that some of its talc products caused cancer. It also faces at least four securities suits over the allegations of asbestos contamination, according to its February 2019 U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

J&J was also hit with whopping $4.69 billion verdict in another talc cancer case, and Colgate was hit with a $13 million verdict in 2015.

Imery’s Bankruptcy Bailout
Imerys Talc America Inc., a J&J supplier, was originally named as a defendant in Ms. Schmitz’ complaint, but avoided trial after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in February 2019. Imerys said it faces up to $100 million in debt from a litany of lawsuits over claims that talc which it produced contained asbestos.

Jury awards $12M In Talc Suit against J&J, Colgate

The case is Schmitz v. Johnson & Johnson et al., case number RG18923615, in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Alameda.

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J & J settles 3 More Talc-Mesothelioma Lawsuits

(April 25, 2019) Johnson & Johnson settled three more talcum powder-mesothelioma lawsuits this week.  All three cases were in the midst of trials brought by women who claimed they were exposed to asbestos while using J&J’s Baby Powder products. Their lawsuit petitions said that exposure led to their developing mesothelioma. Though Johnson agreed to pay the women’s suits, a company spokesman claims they were a “one-off” (though they seem more like a “three-off”) and still denies there was ever asbestos in J&J talcum powder.

The settlements come as New Jersey-based giant Johnson & Johnson faces thousands of talcum powder mesothelioma lawsuits filed by plaintiffs who claim to have developed mesothelioma or ovarian cancer from the products.

The three latest settlements:

  • Plaintiff Sharon Pipes reached a settlement as her Oklahoma jury had begun deliberating after a two-and-a-half-week trial.
  • Plaintiff, Gail Koretoff reached a settlement agreement after jurors had deliberated for two days on her case.
  • Plaintiff Jenny Shulman reached a settlement as her case was scheduled to begin trial this month. She was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma after using J&J’s talcum powder for feminine hygiene. An expert witness was set to testify about finding talc and asbestos in her ovarian and fallopian tissue. Peritoneal Mesothelioma

Peritoneal Mesothelioma

All three plaintiffs had developed peritoneal mesothelioma and claimed to have used J&J’s talc powder products for long periods of time, mostly for feminine hygiene.

Johnson officials have denied rumors that J&J is shifting its talc powder litigation strategy. The company told Bloomberg News that these settlements were “one-off situations.”

J&J maintains its talcum powder products do not contain asbestos. Several juries have nevertheless found J&J responsible for some plaintiffs’ ovarian cancer and mesothelioma.

More than 20 talcum powder trials are scheduled this year in the U.S. Virtually all of the cases involve plaintiffs with a mesothelioma diagnosis.

In December 2018, J&J and Imerys SA, the company’s talc supplier, came to a $1.5-million settlement in a similar mesothelioma case. Imerys later declared bankruptcy which the company said was brought on by all the talc cancer litigation in the country.

Related

•  Talc Mesothelioma Verdict $29 Million against J&J

•  Talcum-Mesothelioma Cancer Lawsuit

•  Imerys seeks Bankruptcy over Talc Lawsuits

•  J & J settles 3 More Talc-Mesothelioma Lawsuits

 

 

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Talcum-Mesothelioma Verdict $29 Million against Johnson & Johnson

(March 19, 2019)  A California jury awarded a woman a talcum powder-mesothelioma verdict  of $29 million against Johnson & Johnson on March 13.  The woman sued J&J over asbestos contained in the company’s baby powder which, she said, caused her to develop mesothelioma.

Plaintiff Terry Leavitt said she routinely used two of J&J’s talcum powder products in the 1960s and ’70s.  She was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2017. Mesothelioma is a cancer linked to asbestos exposure.  The latency period for mesothelioma can be 30-40 years.

The jury deliberated for two days before finding that J&J’s talc-based products were defective and caused Ms. Leavitt’s mesothelioma.  The jury also ruled that J&J failed to warn the public about the risks. The California Superior Court jury in Oakland awarded the plaintiff and her husband $29.4 million in damages.

Thousands of Talc-Cancer Lawsuits

Johnson & Johnson faces thousands of lawsuits which allege that J&J talc-based products have harmed people.  The Leavitt lawsuit was the first to go to trial since December 2018 stories published by Reuters and The New York Times reported that, for several years, J&J had feared that its baby powder might contain asbestos.  The company still denies, as it did throughout the latest trial, that its talcum powder contains asbestos.

J&J said it would appeal the verdict.  Reuters reported that the company claimed the trial was marred by “serious procedural and evidentiary errors.”  J&J also countered in a statement:  “The jury verdicts are not medical, scientific, or regulatory conclusions about a product.”

J&J Executive:  Talc Asbestos Powder

In December 2018, documents showed that J&J knew for decades that its baby powder was laced with small amounts of asbestos.  The deadly material can occur naturally underground near talcum, which is mined.  In the 1970s, a J&J executive warned that the company’s talc mines might not be free of asbestos.  The New York Times reported that a company memo said some of J&J talc products sometimes contained materials that “might be classified as asbestos powder.”

13,000 Lawsuits over J&J Talcum Powder

Recent cases have tested talc’s link to mesothelioma, but many other cases allege talc powder has caused ovarian cancer.  According to Reuters, Johnson & Johnson now faces more than 13,000 talc-related lawsuits nationwide.

$4.7 Billion Talc-Cancer Verdict

In 2018, a jury ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay 22 women $4.7 billion after  the women alleged that they developed ovarian cancer from using J&J talcum powder products.  More than $4 billion of the jury award consisted of punitive damages, which are designed to punish a defendant for wrongdoing.  In December  2018, J&J failed to convince a judge to throw out that verdict , but the company vowed to appeal that decision.

J&J Denies Talc Contains Asbestos

Despite several jury verdicts over a talc cancer link, J&J has always denied that its talcum has ever contained asbestos.   J&J claims that decades of medical studies have demonstrated that its talc is safe.  J&J has stated:  “Research, clinical evidence and nearly 40 years of studies by independent medical experts around the world continue to support the safety of talc.”

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J&J ordered to pay $4.7 Billion for Talc Powder Cancer

(July 12, 2018)  J&J Talcum Powder Lawsuitwas ordered to pay 22 women nearly $4.7 billion for   cancer they developed after using J&J talcum powder.  The women had all used Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and/or J&J’s Shower-to-Shower.  A St. Louis jury agreed with the women’s attorneys that J&J’s talcum powder contained asbestos that gave them cancer.  Six of the 22 women had died of ovarian cancer before the six-week trial.  The jury award included $550 million in compensatory damages and $4.14 billion more in punitive damages.

The 12 St. Louis Circuit Court jurors deliberated for less than a day.  They unanimously held both J&J and J&J Consumer liable for strict liability and negligence for all of the plaintiffs’ injuries.  They awarded each woman suing alone $25 million, and generally awarded each woman whose lawsuit included her husband $12.5 million each.

The jury also found both J&J companies liable for punitive damages for each of the plaintiffs.  The jury deliberated for the punitive damages phase less than two hours.  They then awarded the heavy punitives – $3.15 billion for J&J, $990 million for J&J Consumer.  In addition to the unanimous vote for damages, the jury voted 11-1 for the J&J punitive damages verdict, and unanimously for the J&J Consumer verdict.

The women’s attorney, Mark Lanier, told the jury Jonson & Johnson covered up evidence of asbestos in their products for more than 40 years.  “We hope this verdict will get the attention of the J&J board,” he said, “(and) lead them to better inform the medical community and the public about the connection between asbestos, talc, and ovarian cancer.”

During the punitive damages phase arguments the jury heard after delivering their first verdict, Mr. Lanier told the jury that J&J “deliberately exposed millions of Americans” to a dangerous substance and asked them to impose a verdict the company would notice.

During regular closing arguments, Mr. Lanier told the jury the evidence was there that J&J had covered up testing data and scientific studies that it knew showed the cosmetic-grade talc in Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower contained asbestos.

In closing, Mr. Lanier also described for the jury the plaintiffs and their families, and reminded jurors of details of their testimony. He also told jurors they knew J&J had the motive (money) and the means (asbestos-tainted talc) to cause the injuries suffered by his clients.

CSI St. Louis
“This is CSI St. Louis, in a sense,” said Mr. Lanier.  “It’s your job to determine who is responsible, and the evidence says it’s Johnson & Johnson (and) that responsible party needs to be brought to justice.  (As) I told you at opening, it’s an easy thing to do.  You’ve seen it on TV. You’ve just got to follow the evidence.”

J&J Defense: “Stories are just fiction.”

Speaking for J&J’s defense in closing, attorney Peter Bicks criticized Lanier’s style.  Mr. Bicks told the jury an old lawyer aphorism that says: “When the facts are on your side, use the facts, when the law is on your side, use the law, and when you’ve got neither, bang the table.”   He credited Mr. Lanier credit as being a “showman” and a “storyteller, but some stories are just fiction.”

Mr. Bicks argued that the fiction being told is that J&J is only about profit and keeping an unsafe product on shelves to make a buck.  He reminded the jury of prior testimony from J&J’s own representatives, Susan Nicholson and John Hopkins.  They had told the jury not only that J&J talc was tested and found to be asbestos-free, but that they used it on themselves and their children.

Mr. Bicks said the talc litigation was driven by plaintiffs’ lawyers.  He said all the plaintiffs had discovered the alleged link between talcum powder and cancer through television ads sponsored by attorneys.

Following the verdict, J&J spokesperson Carol Goodrich also objected to the form of the trial. She said that allowing 22 plaintiffs to proceed in one case resulted in prejudice against J&J.  She said that despite their individual circumstances [some had died, some had survived, etc.], the verdict awarded each roughly the same amount.

Ms. Goodrich also said most of the women had no connection to Missouri, which J&J attorneys are sure to point out in an appeals process that she said would be forthcoming.

J&J ordered to pay $4.7 Billion for Talc Powder Cancer

Only time will tell if this verdict will be thrown out.  Many others have following judgements from this St. Louis court.  Things went south for plaintiffs generally after the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year made a ruling which made it very difficult for injured people to sue a corporation in any state but their own or in the state where the corporation is located.

The American court system continues to move further and further to the right, at the behest of corporations at the expense of citizens.  But at the very least, this attention-grabbing verdict gives plaintiffs some hope that justice is still possible for them.  People injured by corporations which exist first and last to make profits for their own executives and shareholders need to be held accountable.  We congratulate the plaintiffs on the verdict and we congratulate Mr. Lanier, who we know – despite what the future may hold – is unquestionably right about at least one thing:  this St. Louis jury did give Johnson & Johnson a verdict the company will notice.

The case is Ingham v. Johnson & Johnson et al., case number 1522-CC10417, in the 22nd Judicial Circuit of Missouri.

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Talcum Powder Cancer Attorney

J&J’s Flagship Product Trouble

Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder Propaganda

J&J ordered to pay $4.7 Billion for Talc Cancer

 

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J&J Talc Supplier agrees to Settle Lawsuits

(June 14, 2018)  A J&J talc supplier has agreed to pay at least $5 million to settle 22 ovarian cancer law suits, Reuters reported last week.  Imerys Talc America supplied Johnson & Johnson with talc for its Shower-to-Shower and Baby Powder products. Imery’s has agreed to the reported $5 million figure in order to settle a talcum powder lawsuit filed by 22 women.

The women all allege they developed ovarian cancer from regular, repeated use of J&J talc-based powders for feminine hygiene.  Their lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson is being heard now in Missouri’s 22nd Circuit Court in St. Louis.  Bloomberg News reported that Imerys agreed to the settlement just before the trial began.  A company spokesperson confirmed the agreement.

No Fault for Imery’s
Imerys has not admitted fault for any of the plaintiffs’ injuries. The company continues to deny its talc was tainted with asbestos, as does Johnson & Johnson.  No exact settlement terms will be made public.

Talcum Powder Mesothelioma Verdicts
Johnson & Johnson and Imerys are named in more than 9,000 lawsuits which allege talc used to make Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower was tainted with asbestos. Lawsuit petitions all state that the talc caused regular users to develop ovarian cancer or mesothelioma.

Johnson & Johnson Talc Powder Mesothelioma Trials
A California jury ordered J&J and its talcum suppliers – including Imerys – to pay a woman $27.1 million for her claim that asbestos-tainted Baby Powder caused her mesothelioma. The jury also added $4 million in punitive damages. It found J&J acted with malice, oppression, or fraud.

In April 2018, a New Jersey’s jury in Middlesex County Superior Court awarded a man $117 million in compensatory and punitive damages. He had alleged his life-long Baby Powder use was the only possible explanation for his mesothelioma. The jury found J&J and Imery’s Talc 70% and 30% liable (respectively) for damages incurred by the plaintiff and his wife.

Johnson & Johnson prevailed in a California mesothelioma trial that concluded in November 2017, but it has lost other talcum-mesothelioma cancer lawsuits.

A third California case was declared a mistrial in May 2018, and a recent South Carolina talc-meso trial was also declared a mistrial after the jury deadlocked.

Talcum Powder Ovarian Cancer Verdicts
Plaintiffs have won four and lost two talc-cancer verdicts in Missouri’s 22nd Circuit Court.

•  February 2016: A jury ordered Johnson & Johnson and Imerys to pay $72 million* to the family  of an Alabama woman who died from ovarian cancer.
•   May 2016: A jury ordered J&J to pay $55 million to a South Dakota woman.
•   June 27, 2016: A jury ordered J&J to pay $70 million to California woman.
•   March 2017: A jury founds in favor of J&J against a Tennessee woman.
•   May 2017: J&J and Imerys were ordered to pay $110.5 million to a Virginia woman.**

*The $72 million verdict was later dismissed after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Bristol-Myers Squibb v. Superior Court of California. The high court held that a plaintiff must file suit where defendants are headquartered or else in the state where the plaintiff was injured.

**J&J challenged the $110 million verdict, but it was upheld. The trial court ruled jurisdiction was appropriate because J&J had used a Missouri-based company to label, package and distribute.

J&J Talc Supplier agrees to Settle Lawsuits

Johnson & Johnson is appealing the other four Missouri verdicts.  There has also been a concerted PR campaign from industry quarters to attack the Missouri court as unfairly favorable to plaintiffs.

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J&J Talc Trial for 22 Women

( June 8, 2018)Talcum Powder Lawsuit  A J&J talc trial for 22 women began last week in St. Louis.  Six of the women plaintiffs have died of ovarian cancer.  The 16 still alive also have ovarian cancer, which they said they got as a result of their daily use of Johnson & Johnson talcum powder products – either J&J’s Baby Powder or Shower to Shower. Their lawsuit charges that  J&J willfully ignored evidence that the powder was tainted with deadly asbestos.

The 22 women hail from all across the nation.  The court anticipates hearing from each of them or from a surviving family member over the course of the trial.

Related:  J&J Talc Powder Cancer Lawsuit

Johnson & Johnson representatives and company lawyers say the talc in Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower is a cosmetic grade that was, and is, free of asbestos.  J&J says many  scientific and governmental organizations that have investigated any talc-cancer link have not been persuaded.

But the women’s attorney, Mark Lanier, argued in opening statement that J&J worked furiously to keep the talc-asbestos evidence hidden from the public.

The Houston attorney told the jury of an Italian mine that supplied J&J’s talc for baby powder.  The Italians warned J&J that they had asbestos in their talc mines.  He said, “[T]he company sends two of their big dogs over to Italy to get in front of that company and say, ‘Please stop this English translation from going out until we can work on it and take out the asbestos section.’”

Rigged Talc Asbestos Tests?
Mr. Lanier told the jury he expected J&J’s defense attorney to show them “document after document” in his own opening in an attempt to prove the company performed hundreds of tests to rule out any possible asbestos in J&J talc products.

“They rigged the tests,” shrugged Mr. Lanier.  “They rigged the tests.”

Mr. Lanier called J&J’s baby powder the company’s “sacred cow.” He said talc mines are “marbled” with asbestos like streaks.  He said testing should be done on “concentrate” asbestos, like orange juice.  He said asbestos doesn’t reveal itself via “onion properties” like smell, visibility, sneezing or eye-watering.

The defense attorney did not fall short of performing as Lanier had anticipated for the jury. “Millions of women who’ve used baby powder have not gotten cancer,” he said.  “And most who have ovarian cancer did not use baby powder.”

“We believe and have always believed that there isn’t [asbestos in J&J talc],” said the defense lawyer.  “Independent laboratories said there’s no asbestos. Universities and research centers said there’s no asbestos. Government agencies, no asbestos. Johnson & Johnson’s testing, no asbestos. The talc suppliers’ certificates, no asbestos.”

He said at least one of the plaintiffs had brought her own bottle of baby powder to a deposition, and when asked to read the back of the bottle, read, “Pure cornstarch”– not talc.

He further alleged that every one of the 22 women had a family history of cancer.

“Asbestos is everywhere,” the defense attorney told the jury.  “[T]heir experts will say to you that everybody, you, me, everyone has asbestos in their tissue because of what is in the atmosphere. I don’t think there’ll be any dispute about that.”

Witnesses expected in this trial include materials scientist Bill Longo and mineralogist Dr. Alice Blount for plaintiffs.  Matthew Sanchez of R.J. Lee Group and gynecological oncologists Cheryl Saenz and Warner Huh are expected to testify for J&J.

The trial for the 22 women is expected to last a couple of weeks.  It comes on the heels of several previous talc-cancer trials over Johnson& Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower. It has been a mixed bag of results so far, as plaintiffs have won some and J&J has prevailed in some.  In addition, some large verdicts for women have been overturned on appeal.

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California Jury Awards $22 Million in Talc Asbestos Trial

A California jury has awarded $22 million in a talc asbestos trial.  The award went to the estate of a man exposed to paint contaminated with asbestos.  The jury award also broadens the liability of talc makers.

Richard Booker died in 2016 of mesothelioma.  He had worked as a paint maker for several years, during which time he was exposed to asbestos-containing talc.  The lawsuit filed by the estate of Mr. Booker charges that he was exposed to asbestos while working for Walter N. Boysen Paint Co. and Dexter Midland Chemical Co.

Related:  Talcum Mesothelioma Cancer Lawsuit

$22 Million Award
The $22 million award includes $4.6 million in punitive damages, in addition to $17.57 million for malice. The jury ruled that Imerys Talc America Inc. and Vanderbilt Minerals were jointly responsible for selling, marketing and distributing the asbestos-tainted talc.

The jury in the Superior Court of California for Alameda County ruled that Mr. Booker’s mesothelioma was caused by asbestos exposure in the talc used to make paint during his career.

Other Talc Mesothelioma Verdicts

The California verdict follows several other recent multi-million dollar jury awards for plaintiffs who died of mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos in talcum powder.

In 2017, Colgate-Palmolive was ordered by a jury to pay $1.4 million to a woman who was diagnosed with mesothelioma after using Cashmere Bouquet talcum powder.   Some studies showed that the product contained up to 20% asbestos during the 1970s.

In addition, Colgate-Palmolive also recently paid an undisclosed settlement in a similar talc-related mesothelioma lawsuit.  Plaintiffs  in all these cases claim their asbestos  exposure was caused by their breathing it.

Failure to Warn, Design Defect, Negligence
The California jury ruled for the plaintiff, Mr. Booker, on three basic causes of action:  1.) failure to warn, 2.) product design defect, 3.) negligence.

Imerys Talc
Imerys continues to insist that its talc product is safe, despite this verdict against the company and a few others. The largest talc producer in the world, Imerys is expected to file an appeal demanding the jury verdict be thrown out due to a lack of scientific evidence. Imerys’ appeal will likely argue, as it had in the trial, that the scientific evidence does not prove that Imerys talc caused Mr. Booker’s mesothelioma.

Talc-containing Asbestos
Researchers, meanwhile, continue to debate the safety of talc, a clay mineral containing hydrated magnesium silicate. Past talc products contained trace amounts of asbestos dust. In paint, talc is used for heat resistance, and to prevent oil absorption. It is also used in talcum powder, insecticides, ceramics, roofing materials, and in pulp and paper industry products.

Is Talc Asbestos Free Today?
Today, new regulations require talc to be asbestos-free. Talc lawsuits being filed today often stem from exposure decades ago. Most cases involve ovarian cancer from products like Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder or Shower to Shower; but some talc lawsuits involve mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma from Talc Exposure
Exposure to asbestos is the leading cause of mesothelioma, an aggressive form of cancer that is usually a death sentence.

California Jury Awards $22 Million in Talc Asbestos Trial
Mr. Booker’s case comes at a time when several companies, including Johnson & Johnson and Colgate Palmolive, are being sued for talc-containing products, which plaintiffs argue can cause ovarian cancer.

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Sixth Talcum Powder Trial set in Missouri

A Missouri court will convene its sixth talcum powder trial on October 16, 2017. A September 18 hearing in the 22nd Circuit Court for St. Louis set the date.

The wrongful death lawsuit filed was brought by a Missouri man on behalf of his deceased wife. Michael Blaes claims that his wife’s death from ovarian cancer was a direct result of her using Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products.  Mrs. Blaes used J&J talc products for decades as part of her feminine hygiene routine.

Related: Talcum Powder Cancer Attorney

Mrs. Blaes’ case was one of three that went before a Missouri jury in July 2017.  The judge in that action declared a mistrial after five days of testimony.  The legal move came in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of California. That case held (in an 8-1 vote) that state courts lack jurisdiction over out-of-state defendants when plaintiffs allege injuries which did not occur in the state.

Mrs. Blaes was the only Missouri resident in that aborted trial.  During the Sept. 18 hearing, the Court indicated Mr. Blaes’ case would proceed to trial October 16th; but the judge has yet to rule on certain jurisdictional issues that could affect the trial setting.

5,000 Talc Powder Ovarian Cancer Lawsuits
Johnson & Johnson faces nearly 5,000 talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits nationwide. Plaintiffs pursuing these claims cite numerous studies dating back to the 1970s. The studies suggest the regular and repeated application of talc-based powders to a woman’s genitals may increase her risk of developing ovarian cancer. They also highlight internal documents that show Johnson company executives had prior knowledge of this research, but placed profits over safety. The lawsuits charge that J&J selfishly decided against adding warning labels to its Baby Powder or Shower-to-Shower talcum powder products.

Missouri Verdicts top $400 Million
Missouri has already concluded five talcum powder ovarian cancer trials. Four juries awarded plaintiffs compensatory and punitive damages that ranged from $55 million to $100 million. Only one of five Missouri juries has returned a verdict for Johnson & Johnson.

California Talc Cancer Verdict – $417 Million
At least 300 similar cases are pending against Johnson & Johnson in California’s Los Angeles Superior Court. In August 2017, a jury that heard evidence in the state’s first talcum powder trial ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $417 million to a woman diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer. That verdict included $300 million in punitive damages. That trial included much of the evidence presented during earlier talcum powder trials in Missouri. It also marked the first time a jury saw evidence that some of Johnson’s competitors were now including ovarian cancer warnings on their talcum powder labels.

Sixth Talcum Powder Trial set in Missouri

Besides the sixth talcum powder trial set in Missouri, talcum powder litigation involving J&J  products is also underway in New Jersey and Delaware state courts, as well as in New Jersey federal court.

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Johnson & Johnson loses $417 Million Talc Cancer Verdict

A Los Angeles jury ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay a California woman $417 million this week, for failing to warn her that its talc products are cancerous.

On August 21, 2017, the Los Angeles jury issued the largest verdict yet in a series of trials which J&J has mostly lost. The drug and medical device giant has now lost 5 of 6 talc cancer verdicts.

Johnson & Johnson and its lawyers will have a harder time writing this verdict off as the product of an unfair venue, which they have done in the past.  The company lost one verdict in South Dakota, though that one received scant attention because the victim had survived chemotherapy (at least at the time of the trial); so the jurors awarded no damages.  Then J&J lost three high-profile verdicts in St. Louis Missouri.  Consequently, the company and its well-paid lawyers and bloggers have tried to write off those Missouri verdicts as a result of a judicial district unfair to corporate defendants.

Look now for attacks on California jurors, or the state itself, as J&J and its corporate apologists and well-paid trolls of every stripe will try to tattoo the state and its jurors to somehow explain away this one, too.

Could it simply be that the 12 jurors were sane and simply cognizant for the California trial?  Could it be that they heard the science from paid experts on both sides, then determined that it is more likely than not that Eva Echeverria’s ovarian cancer was caused by Johnson & Johnson talcum products?

Johnson & Johnson Failed to Warn
Like four previous juries, the California jury found that Johnson & Johnson failed to warn the 63-year-old woman diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer about the risks of using J&J talcum products.

The California verdict marks the largest one yet in several suits that claim the company’s talc powder causes ovarian cancer.  More than 300 lawsuits are pending in California.  More than 4,500 talc cancer lawsuits are pending in the rest of the country.  All allege J&J ignored studies which linked its Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower to cancer.

Plaintiff Dying of Ovarian Cancer
The plaintiff, Eva Echeverria, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007.  A surgeon removed a softball-sized tumor from Ms. Echeverria, but she is now near death.  She was unable to attend the trial.

In video-recorded testimony played for the jury, Ms. Echeverria testified that she used Johnson’s Baby Powder from age 11 until 2016, when she saw a news story about a woman with ovarian cancer who had also used Johnson’s baby powder.

Johnson’s Baby Powder is one of the company’s best-known products. It was once heavily marketed with the catchy jingle, “A sprinkle a day helps keep the odor away.”

Ms. Echeverria testified that if Johnson & Johnson had put a warning on its talc product, she would have stopped using it.

Jury deliberates Two Days
Jurors deliberated for two days, before awarding Ms. Echeverria $70 million in compensatory damages and $347 million in punitive damages.  The jury panel found there was a connection between her ovarian cancer and the baby powder.

J&J will appeal Verdict (of course)
Johnson & Johnson immediately announced that it would seek to overturn the verdict.  Company attorneys argued throughout the trial (as they will in their appeal) that science doesn’t back the connection between talc and ovarian cancer.

J&J said in a statement: “We will appeal today’s verdict because we are guided by the science, which supports the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder.”  (Sounds good if you say it fast enough.)

J&J lawyers argued throughout the trial that various scientific studies, as well as federal agencies, including the U.S. FDA, had not found talc products carcinogenic. (The FDA has also approved a couple dozen drugs that were later pulled for serious and sometimes fatal problems, but J&J lawyers didn’t include that information in their appeal to the FDA’s alleged authority.)

Among the studies J&J cited was one in 2000 by researchers at Harvard University that was part of the National Nurses Health Study of more than 121,000 women, 78,630 of whom said they had used talc.  Ovarian cancer eventually struck 307 of them.  The researchers concluded there was “no overall association” between talc use and “epithelial ovarian cancer.”  There was, however, a “modest elevation in risk” for one variety of the disease, invasive serous ovarian cancer, which is the one killing Ms. Echeverria, according to court documents.

Johnson & Johnson loses $417 Million Talc Cancer Verdict

Ms. Echeverria’s attorneys argued that women nationwide trusted Johnson & Johnson not to market an unsafe product.  They learned too late that J&J had known long ago about other research showing a relationship between talc and cancer.

1982 Study showed Talc Increases Cancer Risk
The lawsuit petition cited a 1982 study that shows women who used talc on their genitals were at a 92% increased risk for ovarian cancer.  The lead researcher in that study, Daniel W. Cramer, later advised Johnson & Johnson to put a warning label on the product.  The plaintiff’s lawyers argued that J&J failed to include the warning because it would have seriously cut into their profits, as warned women would not have used Johnson’s Baby Powder or Shower to Shower talc, or would have used the products much more sparingly.

According to the National Cancer Institute, ovarian cancer accounts for 1.3% of all new cancer cases in the United States.  It is the eighth most common cancer and the fifth-leading cause of cancer-related death among women.  Fewer than half of all patients survive five years after an ovarian cancer diagnosis.

Other J&J Talc Cancer Verdicts
Johnson & Johnson has prevailed in just one of six trials against the company in the talcum powder cancer litigation. In 2013, a South Dakota jury sided with a woman plaintiff who blamed J&J’s talc powder for her ovarian cancer, and three previous juries in St. Louis sided with plaintiffs, for a total of $197 million in verdicts against the company.  Five juries have now awarded plaintiffs more than $614 million in total verdicts against Johnson & Johnson in the talcum cancer litigation.

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First Multi-Plaintiff Talc Cancer Trial underway in Missouri

The first multi-plaintiff talc cancer trial is underway. A Missouri state court jury in St. Louis heard opening statements June 9, 2017 in a trial involving claims from the families of three dead women. All had, for decades, used talc-based products like Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder. The trial is the first of its kind against J&J to involve more than one dead plaintiff.

Related: Talc Powder Cancer Attorney

$300 Million in Talc-Cancer Verdicts
Overall, this is the sixth talc-related trial in St. Louis, where thousands of similar cases are pending. All previous talc cancer trials in St. Louis involved individual plaintiffs. All but one resulted in huge verdicts against J&J. The most recent trial, in May 2017, ended with a $110 million jury verdict. Three earlier verdicts resulted in juries awarding nearly $200 million.

Thousands of Talc Cancer Lawsuits against J&J
Thousands of talc cancer lawsuits have joined consolidated dockets in Missouri, California and New Jersey state courts. There is also a recently established federal multidistrict litigation court (MDL) based in New Jersey. The trial that began last week will be watched closely, as attorneys consider pushing future multi-plaintiff trials, in order to have more cases heard before a jury.

Each initial bellwether trial in any litigation can play a key role in shaping any eventual settlement for large numbers of people.

Attorneys accuse J&J of Failure to Warn
Attorneys representing the families of Shawn Blaes, 50, Angela Dawn Hershman, 46, and Eron Evans, 41, accuse J&J of continuing to sell dangerous products like Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower. The plaintiffs’ attorneys allege that J&J knew about numerous scientific studies that showed a conclusive link between talc and ovarian cancer, yet sold the product to the women anyway. According to the attorneys, this exposure occurs when talc is applied to the genitals; talc and asbestos particles then travel up the fallopian tubes into the ovaries.

J&J accused of Marketing to Minority Women
The lawsuit also charges that J&J marketed talc products specifically to African-American women, despite knowing scientific evidence showed them more susceptible to ovarian cancer than other parts of the population.

30+ Years of Talc Use
All three women used talcum powder for more than 30 years. Ms. Blaes was a Missouri resident, while Ms. Hershman and Ms. Evans lived in Virginia and Texas. Missouri’s joinder rules allow non-resident plaintiffs to file lawsuits in the state’s courts, which has made St. Louis a popular venue for mass tort cases. However, this situation could change depending on the outcome of a U.S. Supreme Court case addressing out-of-state plaintiffs’ rights.

Defendants J&J and Imerys Talc America
J&J and its talc supplier and co-defendant Imerys Talc America maintain talc is not a carcinogen. Their lawyers argue that studies plaintiffs highlight are outdated and full of flawed methodology. The companies compare talc to products like alcohol or red meat. They argue that no government regulatory agency has called for a cancer warning label on talc-based products. That theme may have played a major role in J&J’s lone trial win in a talc cancer case earlier this year.

Corporate Image Trumps Safety?
An attorney for the women plaintiffs said in his opening statement Friday: “This case is about corporations placing their corporate image over the life of their customers and the safety of their customers, pure and simple.”

J&J Lawyer Responds
J&J has used several different powerhouse law firms in the talc litigation. The company’s lawyer for this trial told the jury: “Because it’s not toxic, and because it’s not a carcinogen, and because it doesn’t cause ovarian cancer, it’s not a hazard and therefore no warning is required.”

California Bellwether Talc Trial
Another upcoming bellwether talc trial is also set to begin this summer, on July 10 in California state court. That date was set by a Los Angeles judge for the first trial in his state.

Before that July trial, on June 26 the same judge will convene a 5-day hearing to determine the admissibility of expert testimony. Expert testimony on the alleged link between talc and ovarian cancer is crucial in these trials. A New Jersey state court judge (named Johnson) last fall arbitrarily ruled to exclude witnesses who have been permitted to testify for plaintiffs in Missouri. That decision ended a bellwether trial just days before it was to begin.

More Talc Cancer Trials
Besides the California hearing and trial set for the coming weeks, another multi-plaintiff talc trial is scheduled in July before St. Louis Circuit Court Judge Rex Burlison. He has presided all of the previous talc trials.

First Multi-Plaintiff Talc Cancer Trial underway in Missouri
The consolidated case is named Swann, et al. v. Johnson & Johnson, et al., No. 1422-CC09326-01, in Missouri’s 22nd Circuit Court in St. Louis.

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