Verdicts & Settlements

$110M award in talcum powder case is largest award in suits claiming link to ovarian cancer

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Johnson & Johnson baby powder

Raihana Asral /

Jurors in St. Louis have awarded $110 million to a Virginia woman who claimed talcum powder sold by Johnson & Johnson caused her ovarian cancer.

The verdict is the largest so far in litigation over the cancer link, report the Wall Street Journal Law Blog, Bloomberg, Reuters and (sub. req.). Three prior trials resulted in verdicts of $55 million, $70 million and $72 million, while the company scored a win in a trial earlier this year.

The plaintiff is Lois Slemp, 61, who had used Johnson & Johnson products for four decades before her cancer diagnosis in 2012.

The defendants were Johnson & Johnson, found to be 99 percent at fault, and talc supplier Imerys Talc, found to be 1 percent at fault. The jury awarded $5.4 million in compensatory damages. The verdict included punitive damages of $105 million against Johnson & Johnson and $50,000 against Imerys.

About 2,400 lawsuits are pending, according to Reuters.

Johnson & Johnson plans to appeal. The company noted that two New Jersey cases were dismissed last September after a judge found scientific experts couldn’t support the alleged cancer link. A lawyer for the company told trial jurors that the Food and Drug Administration had found no need for a warning label because the science didn’t support it.

Imerys said in a statement that the government and scientific organizations have concluded that talc is safe, and the verdict undermines scientific efforts to find the true causes of ovarian cancer.

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