On Monday, Johnson & Johnson was ordered by a Los Angeles jury to pay $417 million to a woman who brought a lawsuit against the company. The woman claims that the company’s popular baby powder causes ovarian cancer when applied regularly for feminine hygiene.
Eve Echeverria of California alleged that Johnson & Johnson did not properly warn consumers about the powder’s potential cancer risk. She personally used the baby powder on a daily basis from the 1950’s until she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007.
Echeverria said in her lawsuit she developed ovarian cancer as a “proximate result of the unreasonably dangerous and defective nature of talcum powder.” Her attorney, Mark Robinson, said his client is undergoing cancer treatment while hospitalized. “Mrs. Echeverria is dying from this ovarian cancer and she said to me all she wanted to do was to help the other women throughout the whole country who have ovarian cancer for using Johnson & Johnson for 20 and 30 years,” he said.
“She really didn’t want sympathy,” he added. “She just wanted to get a message out to help these women.”
The jury’s award to Echverria included $68 million in compensatory damages, along with $340 million in punitive damages. Robinson explained that the evidence shown in the case included internal documents from several decades that “showed the jury that Johnson & Johnson knew about the risks of talc and ovarian cancer.”
Robinson added that the company had many warning signs over a period of 30 years, but they failed to warn the consumers who were buying their product. Johnson & Johnson spokeswoman Carol Goodrich said that the company will appeal the jury’s decision. She explained in a statement that the company sympathizes with women who are suffering from ovarian cancer, but there is evidence that Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder is safe.
This is far from the only lawsuit that has been brought against the company. Over 4,800 talcum powder lawsuits have been filed against the company. In May, a jury awarded $110.5 million to a Virginia woman who was diagnosed with cancer in 2012. She had been using the company’s talcum powder for over 40 years. In similar cases, woman have been awarded $72 million, $70.1 million and $55 million in lawsuits against the company.