Family of Cancer Victim Awarded $72 Million in Damages
In a jury verdict which could have national implications for victims of cancer believed to be caused by talc, the heirs of a woman killed by ovarian cancer have been awarded $10 million dollars in compensatory damages and $62 million in punitive damages against Johnson & Johnson, the manufacturer of such commonly-used talc-containing products as Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower.
The victim, Jacqueline Fox, was a resident of Birmingham, Alabama. For over 30 years, Fox had included talcum powder as a component of her daily grooming routine, not realizing the risk it posed to her health. Fox was diagnosed with ovarian cancer three years ago and filed a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson in St. Louis, Missouri, prior to her death in October of 2015. Fox’s claim was one in a group of claims of negligence, fraud, and conspiracy filed against Johnson & Johnson; her claim served as the first “bellwether” of the group to proceed to trial.
Fox’s lawsuit claimed that the manufacturer had been aware for years of the risk of cancer posed by talc-containing products, but had failed to warn consumers of this risk for fear of hurting sales. Fox’s attorneys presented the court with evidence in the form of a memo circulated at Johnson & Johnson in 1997, noting the “obvious” cancer risk posed by the use of hygienic talc-containing products, and argued that the company knew as early as the 1980s of the health risks posed. The jury also heard evidence of doctors finding talc in Fox’s ovaries, and their determination that this ingredient had caused inflammation that then resulted in cancer.
After a three-week trial and four hours of deliberations, the jury found the personal hygiene product manufacturer liable for the alleged claims. Additional trials are scheduled to proceed this spring and summer. Already, at least 1,000 similar claims have been filed in Missouri, with another 200 filed in New Jersey.
If you or someone you love has been the victim of cancer believed to have been caused by talc-containing products, or the victim or another defective or dangerous drug or medical device in Alabama, contact the skilled and experienced Mobile defective device and medical malpractice attorney J. Allan Brown for a consultation, at 251-473-6691.