Thousands of women have sued Johnson & Johnson amidst claims that its talcum powder products caused ovarian cancer in themselves or someone they loved. However, only a handful of those lawsuits have been resolved so far by a verdict.

To date, the company has been ordered to pay out nearly $725 million dollars in just five talc lawsuits brought by women who were diagnosed with ovarian cancer after a long-term history of using Johnson’s Baby Powder or Shower-to-Shower Body Powder.

talcum powder settlements

Will Johnson & Johnson Offer Settlements for Talcum Powder Lawsuits?

One of the big questions still outstanding is whether Johnson & Johnson will try to settle the more than 5,000 remaining talcum powder cases against it. While the company has won a few cases so far, the amounts of the verdicts against it have trended upwards with each case won by a woman diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

So far, the pharmaceutical and consumer products company has refused to entertain the idea of a settlement. But if the verdicts against it continue to grow, and if the reputation of the company continues to decline as a corporation willing to put the health and lives of women at risk for the sake of profits, then it may eventually come to terms with the need to offer compensation for all of those cases currently in process, as well as those yet to be filed.

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Talcum Powder Verdicts with Compensation

Following is a short overview of the cases that have led to verdicts against Johnson & Johnson so far, resulting in millions of dollars in compensation for the plaintiffs. You can click through on the “Learn More” link to read each woman’s full story.

Eva Echeverria

$417
million $70 million in compensatory damages; $347 million in punitive damages

August 21, 2017 – While hospitalized and receiving treatment for ovarian cancer, Echeverria filed a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson, claiming that her regular use of baby powder made by the company led to the development of cancer. According to her testimony, she used the talc-based product for more than 60 years – since she was 11 years old – even after she was diagnosed in 2007, without knowing about its potential link to cancer.

As with other trials, Johnson & Johnson maintained in Echeverria’s case that their talcum powder products are entirely safe for consumer use. They also argued that they had no legal need to warn consumers about potential problems with the product’s use, since the FDA does not regulate cosmetics with the same level of scrutiny that it regulates foods and medications.

The largest compensation verdict in a talcum powder lawsuit to date, the jury awarded Echeverria more than double what she had asked for in her complaint. Although J&J is looking to appeal this verdict, as well as the other verdicts against the company, for now this remains the largest verdict against the company to date.

Lois Slemp

$110.4
million $5.4 million in compensatory damages; $105 million in punitive damages

May 4, 2017 – In 2012, Slemp was diagnosed with ovarian cancer that had spread to her liver. As with other women who have sued Johnson & Johnson, she believed that her four-decade use of the company’s talc-based products, including both Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower Body Powder, led to the inception of her cancer. Also like previous cases, Slemp listed Imerys Talc America, a talc supplier, as a defendant in the case.

Sitting on the wrong end of three multimillion-dollar verdicts Johnson & Johnson expressed sympathy with Slemp’s diagnosis. Nonetheless, emboldened by a recent win against Nora Daniels (see her story below), the company refuses to admit that its talc products can cause cancer or any other health problems. In fact, the company renewed its determination to continue fighting claims brought by women who have developed cancer after decades of using their products, insisting that it would defend itself in the thousands of other cases filed against it.

However, after a full day of deliberations, the jury found the plaintiff’s evidence convincing, and the verdict came down at greater than $110 million total. Johnson & Johnson was found to be 99% responsible for the talc exposure leading to Slemp’s diagnosis, with Imerys being saddled with 1% accountability.

Deborah Giannecchini

$70
million $2.57 million in compensatory damages; $67.5 million in punitive damages

October 27, 2016 – Diagnosed at age 59 with stage 4 ovarian cancer, Giannecchini sued Johnson & Johnson and Imerys Talc America, claiming her use of using Johnson’s Baby Powder for more than 45 years contributed significantly to the development of her disease. The discovery of her cancer left Giannecchini with an 80% chance of dying in two years or less, despite undergoing aggressive treatment to surgically remove tumors and stop the growth of new masses through the use of radiation and chemotherapy. Fortunately, Giannecchini lived long enough to see the verdict.

During the trial, J&J and Imerys both claimed that the science brought by the plaintiff’s lawyers is flawed. Both companies tried to undermine the various studies showing a connection between talc and ovarian cancer, and they both continue to claim that talcum powder is completely safe for personal use.

Nonetheless, evidence brought out during the trial showed that Johnson & Johnson was aware of medical studies that have demonstrated talc’s connection to cancer, yet it did nothing to warn consumers or change the ingredients used in its baby powder products. In the end, the jury sided with Giannechini, and the pharmaceutical company was ordered to pay nearly $2.5 million in compensation plus $67.5 million in punitive damages. Imerys, who supplied the mined talc to Johnson & Johnson, was ordered to pay 10% of the punitive damages and $2.5 million of the compensatory damages.

Gloria Ristesund

$55
million $5 million in compensatory damages; $50 million in punitive damages

May 2, 2016 – Ristesund was diagnosed with Stage I endometrial ovarian cancer in August 2011, after using talcum powder products daily for over 38 years. Lawyers for Ristesund claimed that Johnson & Johnson did nothing to warn the public about how talcum powder products could pose a risk to women’s health, and that the company marketed its talc-based products to African-American and Hispanic communities.

During a closing statement, a lawyer for Ristesund produced a number of documents written by J&J staffers going back to the 1970s showing the company awareness that talc products could cause cancer. Ultimately, the jury found these documents and other evidence presented in the case compelling, and it awarded a verdict of $55 million to Ristesund. The pharmaceutical company is appealing the verdict.

The good news is that Ristesund’s cancer is now in remission, although she had to undergo a hysterectomy and other treatments to achieve this much medical success. The money she eventually receives may be used to pay for the costs she has already paid out of pocket for her treatment.

Jackie Fox

$72
million $10 million in compensatory damages; $62 million in punitive damages

February 22, 2016 – In 2012, Fox was diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer after having used Johnson’s Baby Powder for approximately 35 years. Although Jackie sued Johnson & Johnson on the basis that its talc products contributed to her diagnosis, she was not able to see the case to its end. She passed away about four months before the trial.

Nonetheless, Fox’s family took up the torch of her fight and continued the suit as a wrongful death case. As it had with previous cases, J&J continued to assert that its baby powder and body powder products were safe for genital use.

The Fox family received a favorable verdict of $72 million dollars after plaintiff’s attorneys showed how Johnson & Johnson was aware of medical studies indicating that its products could induce ovarian cancer. This case was the first in which a plaintiff had won compensation, with all prior cases before it either being thrown out or resulting in a verdict with no damages awarded.

Unfortunately, in October 2017 the Fox verdict was overturned in the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District in a unanimous ruling. Because Fox was not a resident of Alabama her claim should not have been filed in Missouri, the decision stated, relying on a Supreme Court ruling earlier in 2017 over the drug Plavix. Nonetheless, lawyers for the Fox family are hoping that the Missouri State Supreme Court will review the case and ultimately rule in favor of the talcum powder victims.

Cases with No Compensation

Mona Estrada – In 2014, Estrada filed a class action lawsuit claiming that Johnson’s Baby Powder did not properly warn consumers of the potential dangers of talcum powder use on the genitals. As a result, she and many other women have been using the products for decades, despite the fact that Johnson & Johnson knew about the potential link between talc and ovarian cancer. In October 2016, the case was transferred to multidistrict litigation, but it was ultimately dismissed in July 2017 because Estrada had not developed ovarian cancer.

Nora Daniels – Despite filing in Missouri, where a number of other talcum powder lawsuits have been won, Daniels’ lost her case when the jury returned a verdict in favor of Johnson & Johnson. The company argued, as it had in other cases, that the FDA and other government organizations do not require a warning on talcum powder.

Barbara Mihalich – Only a month after the Estrada verdict, Mihalich filed a class action lawsuit arguing that she and other women faced a much higher risk of being diagnosed with ovarian cancer after having used J&J’s talc-based products for many years. However, because Mihalich had not actually been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, the case was ultimately dismissed. Mihalich later filed additional suits related to consumer product safety regulations, which the pharmaceutical company continues to contest in court.

Deane Berg – A physician’s assistant from South Dakota, Berg received an stage 3 ovarian cancer diagnosis in January 2007 after seeing some spotting between her periods a few months earlier. A non-smoker with no family history of ovarian cancer, Berg exhibited no other risk factors for the cancer, and so she attributed it to her decades-long use of talcum powder. In 2009, she sued Johnson & Johnson (along with several other companies), who previously had offered her a $1.3 settlement that she turned down. Although the jury found that the talcum powder was a factor in her diagnosis, they did not award any damages in the case.

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If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer after using talcum powder products for many years, you may be eligible to receive compensation through a settlement or verdict. Connect with someone who can review your case for free and answer any questions you may have.

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