Jury Awards $417 Million In Lawsuit Against Johnson & Johnson Over Alleged Link Between Ovarian Cancer And Talcum Products
A Los Angeles jury awarded a record $417 million to a 63-year-old woman who sued Johnson & Johnson after she developed terminal ovarian cancer, alleging the cancer stemmed from using the company's iconic baby powder for feminine hygiene. The lawsuit is one of a number around the country that allege the company refused to acknowledge studies linking their talcum products to ovarian cancer. The $417 million award is the largest payment yet, according to the L.A. Times.
The plaintiff, California woman Eva Echeverria, used the product from age 11 until 2016, when she was in her 60s. She testified that she stopped using the product after seeing a news story where another woman with ovarian cancer admitted to using the product. Echeverria was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007, according to the Chicago Tribune. Her cancer has become terminal and she was unable to appear in person to testify.
The 2016 case stemmed from the death of Alabama woman Jacqueline Fox, who died of ovarian cancer. Four months after her death, a St. Louis jury awarded $72 million in damages and concluded Johnson & Johnson was negligible and conspired to ignore the potential cancerous risk from using its baby powder, according to Bloomberg. After her case, over 1,000 lawsuits have been filed around the country from women alleging a connection between ovarian cancer and the baby powder.
Fox, Echeverria, and other women who have filed suits all used baby powder in their underwear for feminine hygiene purposes. The powder has shown no ill health effects from general use, but some studies have shown a connection between cancer and genital use. Other studies have shown minimal connection, however, so the American Cancer Society considers the findings mixed, citing how consumer products no longer contain asbestos (a known carcinogen).
Echeverria argued in her lawsuit that if Johnson & Johnson had provided proper warning labels on its products she would have stopped using their baby powder. The jury awarded Echeverria $70 million in compensatory damages and $347 million in punitive damages, according to the L.A. Times.
Echeverria, who is currently undergoing cancer treatment according to her attorney, wanted "to help the other women throughout the whole country who have ovarian cancer from using Johnson & Johnson for 20 and 30 years, according to CBS. In May, a St. Louis jury awarded $110.5 million to a Virginia woman who made similar cancer allegations. Echeverria's case is the first of the California lawsuits to go to trial, according to Reuters.
In a statement, Johnson & Johnson said they would appeal the jury's decision and cited scientific evidence supporting the safety of its products.