Johnson & Johnson (J&J) was recently dealt a blow by a St. Louis jury when the jury found that J&J had conspired to hide its knowledge that its talcum powder hygiene products had the potential to cause ovarian cancer, and despite this knowledge continued to sell talcum containing products to consumers, according to an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. J&J has a long-standing reputation for providing safe family products related to health and hygiene, so this revelation is quite alarming. J&J continues to hold the position that its products are safe.
Jacqueline Fox, Diagnosed With Ovarian Cancer, Deceased
The mass tort suit was brought by Jacqueline Fox after she was diagnosed with Stage 3 ovarian cancer. For more than 35 years Ms. Fox used J&J talcum powder products for feminine hygiene purposes. The products she used included Johnson’s Shower to Shower powder and Johnson’s Baby Powder. It was determined that her extensive use of talc-based powders on her genital region for so many years contributed to her ovarian cancer. After her death, Ms. Fox’s son, Marvin Slater, stepped in as the plaintiff in this case.
There Is A Possible Link Between Using Talcum Powder and Ovarian Cancer
Talc is a naturally occurring mineral that is used to make talcum powder. Some talcum powder is marketed for cosmetic purposes (i.e., personal hygiene). But there is scientific evidence that suggests a link between exposure to talc powder and an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer. For instance, the American Cancer Society website notes that there are concerns about talc powder and the risk of ovarian cancer.
Evidence Against J&J
Evidence of J&J internal memos was presented to the St. Louis jury that indicated that J&J had knowledge of the link between the use of talcum powder and ovarian cancer dating as far back as the 1970’s and yet did nothing to warn or protect consumers. The evidence suggests that J&J may have even taken steps to hide this knowledge from government regulators.
Additionally, a pathologist was brought to the witness stand to offer a professional opinion that talc was a contributing factor to Ms. Fox’s cancer, since talc powder was found in her ovaries. An epidemiologist also testified that approximately ten percent of women who die from ovarian cancer have a link to the use of talc powder.
The St. Louis jury awarded the deceased Ms. Fox $62 million dollars in punitive damages, which was $1 million for each year that Ms. Fox had lived, and $10 million in actual damages. This is a considerable sum, and the case serves as model for similar claims that are pending in other courts. J&J is expected to appeal the jury decision.
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