February 1, 2023

$72M Verdict in talcum powder case

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Jackie Fox, left, and her son Marvin Salter, right.  Courtesy photo.

Jackie Fox, left, and her son Marvin Salter, right. Courtesy photo.

By Amanda Bronstad, The National Law Journal

A jury has awarded $72 million in the first damages verdict against Johnson & Johnson over claims that the use of talcum powder caused a woman’s ovarian cancer.
The award by a jury in St. Louis, Missouri, state court on Monday includes $62 million in punitive damages to the family of Jacqueline Fox, an Alabama woman who used Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder and another talc product for feminine hygiene for more than 35 years before she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She died on Oct. 6 at age 62.
A major factor in the case was a “devastating document,” said Jere Beasley, one of the lawyers at Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles who represented Fox’s family. Beasley Allen is in Montgomery, Alabama.
“You’ve got internal documents that show that they knew it was causing cancer,” said Beasley, who cited a 1997 letter by a former consultant for Johnson & Johnson warning that the company’s responses to the findings of nine scientific studies could end up comparing the talc industry to the cigarette industry.
Johnson & Johnson was represented by Mark Hegarty and Gene Williams, partners at Shook, Hardy & Bacon in Kansas City, Missouri. Spokeswoman Carol Goodrich wrote in an email: “We have no higher responsibility than the health and safety of consumers and we are disappointed with the outcome of the trial. We sympathize with the plaintiff’s family but firmly believe the safety of cosmetic talc is supported by decades of scientific evidence.”
The jury found 10-2 against Johnson & Johnson on claims of failure to warn, negligence and conspiracy. The jury did not find liable another defendant, talc manufacturer Imerys Talc America Inc.
Lawyers for Fox claimed Johnson & Johnson failed to disclose talcum powder’s risks to the public despite knowing about them for decades. Fox was one of more than 60 plaintiffs in a single case. Another woman is scheduled to go to trial on April 11.
Johnson & Johnson faces hundreds of lawsuits over talcum powder use, Beasley said. In 2013, a federal jury in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, found Johnson & Johnson negligent for a woman’s ovarian cancer but awarded no damages. R. Allen Smith, of The Smith Law Firm in Ridgeland, Mississippi, was involved in both that case and Fox’s lawsuit. Other lawyers for Fox came from Onder, Shelton, O’Leary & Peterson in St. Louis and Porter & Malouf in Jackson, Mississippi.

IMAGE: Jackie Fox, left, and her son Marvin Salter, right.

For more on this story go to: http://www.nationallawjournal.com/id=1202750442247/72M-Verdict-in-Talcum-Powder-Case#ixzz416cEElZc

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