Recently, a St. Louis, Missouri jury awarded a $110 million verdict to a Virginia woman who claimed that she developed ovarian cancer as a result of using Johnson & Johnson’s talcum-based powder products for decades. This is the largest verdict to arise out of about 2,400 lawsuits that accuse the company of breaching its duty of care to customers by not informing them about the cancer risks associated with its talc-based products, including the most notable Johnson’s Baby Powder. Additionally, the company’s talc supplier was held partially liable for the plaintiff’s damages and was ordered to pay a portion of the punitive verdict.
In 2012, the plaintiff was diagnosed with ovarian cancer that metastasized to her liver. She believed that her condition stemmed from decades of daily use of Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based products, specifically the company’s baby powder and Shower to Shower products. In April, the plaintiff took Johnson & Johnson to court, alleging that the company was negligent in concealing the fact that the talcum powder in their products could potentially lead to ovarian cancer.
Due to the plaintiff’s debilitating health, the trial was expedited. After deliberating for one day, the jury awarded the plaintiff $5.4 million in compensatory damages and $105 million in punitive damages. Punitive damages may be awarded to a plaintiff in addition to actual damages, losses suffered due to harm, to punish a defendant, deter future misconduct or if the defendant acted in a reckless manner or deliberately caused harm. In this case, the jury also found that Imerys Talc America, Johnson & Johnson’s talc supplier, was one percent responsible for the plaintiff’s damages and was ordered to pay $50,000 in punitive damages.
Johnson & Johnson officials have stated that they will be appealing this decision and disputed the scientific evidence behind the plaintiff’s allegations. In a statement, the company officials said they are preparing for additional trials and will continue to defend the safety of Johnson’s baby powder. Companies have a duty of care to provide a product that meets the ordinary expectations of their consumers.
A company that provides a product that is deemed defective or poses harm to its users may be subject to product liability under the theories of negligence, strict liability, or breach of warranty.
If you or a loved one has suffered serious harm as a result of repetitive use, a malfunction, or insufficient warnings of a product it is important to seek the guidance of an experienced personal injury attorney. The New York personal injury lawyers at Levine & Slavit, PLLC have experience representing clients in various matters, including product liability. Our product liability lawyers will fight vigorously to protect your legal rights and will assist you in securing the compensation you deserve. For more information or to schedule a consultation, contact our New York product liability law office at (888) LAW-8088 or fill out our contact form.