22 women successfully sued Johnson & Johnson over their Shower to Shower and Baby Powder
This was the first such case to successfully argue talcum powder contains asbestos
Johnson & Johnson maintains its powder is safe and plans to appeal
After 8 hours of deliberations Thursday, a St. Louis jury awarded $4.69 billion to 22 women who sued pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson alleging their ovarian cancer was caused by using its powder as a part of their daily feminine hygiene routine.
The jury award includes $550 million in compensatory damages and $4.14 billion in punitive damages. It’s the largest verdict against the company that has sold Baby Powder and Shower to Shower brand talcum powder for decades.
The jurors sat through weeks of testimony listening to experts who explained the complicated science, workers at Johnson & Johnson who said their product was safe. They also heard from the cancer survivors themselves and the loved ones of six plaintiffs who have died from their cancer.
This is not the first case brought against the company, nor will it be the last. There are thousands of cases currently making their way through court systems all around the country. In five of the cases, women who sued have had a favorable verdict. All of those cases are in various stages of appeal.
A jury ruled in Johnson & Johnson’s favor in one lawsuit in California last November. In October, a judge reversed two verdicts in favor of the company. A Missouri appeals court tossed out a $55 million verdict in June citing jurisdictional issues.
The science is still up for debate. Concerns about a link between talc and ovarian cancer started surfacing around 1971, when scientists wrote about finding talc particles embedded in ovarian and cervical tumor tissue.