On May 2 the second jury in three months found Johnson & Johnson liable for ovarian cancer resulting from use of its talc containing products. The St. Louis jury awarded Plaintiff Gloria Ristesund $55 million dollars after agreeing Johnson’s Baby Powder contributed to the development of her ovarian cancer. Mrs. Ristesund was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2011 when she was just 57 years old. She had used Johnson’s Baby Powder for feminine hygiene for more than 40 years. The verdict includes $5 million dollars in actual damages and $50 million in punitive damages.
You will recall that we reported on the first of these two verdicts after a St. Louis jury found in favor of the family of Jacqueline Fox. The jurors found that her ovarian cancer, and subsequent death, were caused by the use of Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower. The Fox verdict came down in February of this year and totaled $72 million dollars – $62 million of which was punitive in nature.
Both Mrs. Ristesund and Jacqueline Fox’s family were represented by our firm. Each of these women testified that the purpose for bringing their lawsuit was so that other women would be aware of this cancer risk. Since Johnson & Johnson is unwilling to change the labeling on their baby powder product, it will take lawsuits brought by brave women and their families to get the word out to the public regarding this health hazard. Eventually Johnson & Johnson will have to listen.
The juries in these two cases saw internal company documents that proved Johnson & Johnson has known for decades about the ovarian cancer risk and not only didn’t do anything to warn consumers, but they purposely refused to warn and covered up the risk. Indeed, Johnson & Johnson’s own consultant advised them in a 1997 letter to the CEO of the company that if they didn’t start warning and otherwise acknowledging that the evidence presented by studies showed this increase risk, the public would start perceiving them like the cigarette industry for denying a risk of cancer when all evidence pointed to the contrary. The jury also heard evidence that genital talc use causes thousands of new ovarian cancer cases in this country every year and results in an estimated 2,500 deaths each year.
Mrs. Ristesund was represented in her case by Beasley Allen lawyers Ted G. Meadows, David P. Dearing, Danielle Ward Mason, Brittany Scott, and Ryan Beattie, along with Allen Smith of The Smith Law Firm in Jackson, Mississippi, and Stephanie Rados, Jim Onder, and Wylie Blair of the St. Louis firm of Onder, Shelton, O’Leary & Peterson, LLC. All of these lawyers have worked hard on the Talcum powder cases and they did an excellent job in this second case. Shortly after Labor Day we will have two more cases set for trial, one in St. Louis and a second in New Jersey, with many more to follow.
If you have any questions regarding these cases, or you want to know more about the Talc litigation generally, contact Ted Meadows at 800-898-2034 or by email at Ted.Meadows@beasleyallen.com.
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