Last February the family of Jackie Fox, who died from ovarian cancer, was awarded $72 million in the first state-court case over the talcum powder cancer complaints that went to trial. (Hogans et al v. Johnson & Johnson, case number 1422-CC09012-01).
The second jury trial three months later awarded Gloria Ristesund $55 million for her ovarian cancer lawsuit and last October J&J lost its third St. Louis trial. The jury awarded California woman Deborah Giannecchini more than $70 million. At the time, Bloomberg reported that J&J was accused in about 1,700 pending lawsuits in state and federal court of ignoring studies linking its baby powder and Shower-to-Shower talc products to ovarian cancer and failing to warn customers about the risk.
Interestingly, J&J’s co-defendant and talc supplier, Imerys Talc America, Inc., was absolved of liability in the first two cases. But in the third, Deborah Giannecchini’s trial, Imerys was fined $2.5 million in punitive damages. (J&J was ordered to pay $65 million in punitive damages and 90 percent of about $2.5 million for medical costs and pain and suffering.)
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Ovarian cancer accounts for about 22,000 of the 1.7 million new cases of cancer expected to be diagnosed in the U.S. this year. If, indeed, a number of these cases are linked to talcum powder, it'll be a good thing that the drug giant has deep pockets, but at what cost—women’s lives.