On October 23, 2017 a California Judge sided with Johnson & Johnson who was hit with a $70,000,000 compensatory damage award and $347,000,000 punitive damage award in favor of a woman who developed ovarian cancer. A new trial has been ordered. The plaintiff explained that she had been using the J & J talc based baby powder for over 50 years until she stopped using it in 2016 when she read about the association between talcum powder and ovarian cancer. J & J is looking at 4800 talcum powder lawsuits nationwide, and has lost 4 of 5 trials so far. A jury verdict of $72,000,000 in Missouri involving a similar claim against J & J, was also overturned, but solely on the ground that the lawsuit should not have been prosecuted in Missouri.
The Court tossed the $417M verdict finding "insufficiency of evidence" as to whether the talcum powder caused the plaintiff's ovarian cancer. The Court described "an ongoing debate in the scientific and medical community" on whether talc usage may cause ovarian cancer. However, some talcum based powders carry a warning label that discloses the possible risk of ovarian cancer after regular use of the product in the female genital area. Moreover, the possible link was discussed in a 1971 study that reported a finding of talc particles in ovarian tumors. Of course, there were scientific debates (for decades) on whether cigarette smoking causes cancer. Jury trials which held the tobacco cartel liable certainly helped advance the cause of safety. This Judge's decision will surely be appealed. For more information, click the link below.