Jacqueline Fox used Johnson & Johnson products as part of her feminine hygiene routine for 35 years. It wasn’t until her cancer diagnosis 3 years ago that Jacqueline learned of the link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer.
Unfortunately, Jacqueline didn’t live long enough to see the result of her lawsuit against the world’s biggest seller of health care products. Her trial ended last week, but Jacqueline passed away from her cancer back in October.
During the trial, Jacqueline’s attorneys produced internal documents proving that Johnson & Johnson executives were aware of the deadly side effects of baby powder and Shower to Shower body powder as early as the 1980s. One memo written by a Johnson & Johnson medical consultant compared the link between the hygienic use of talcum powder and ovarian cancer to the link between smoking cigarettes and cancer.
“They tried to cover up and influence the boards that regulate cosmetics,” explained a juror, following the trial. “They could have at least put a warning label on the box but they didn’t. They did nothing.”
Though the trial lasted 3 weeks, the jury only needed 4 hours to decide in favor of Jacqueline’s family. They awarded $10 million in actual damages to the family, and $62 in punitive damages against Johnson & Johnson. They found the company liable for negligence, conspiracy and fraud.
Jacqueline’s family has already pledged to give well over half of their compensation to the Missouri Crime Victims’ Compensation Fund.
Though Jacqueline’s attorneys had no problem convincing the jury of Johnson & Johnson’s negligence, the company still maintains that they did nothing wrong. “We sympathize with the plaintiff’s family but firmly believe the safety of cosmetic talc is supported by decades of scientific evidence.”
The company is now considering appealing the Missouri court’s decision.
The verdict for Jacqueline’s family is a positive sign to the over 1,200 woman in United States with impending lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson for failing to warn consumers about the dangers of their products.
This isn’t the first time Johnson & Johnson has come under scrutiny for misleading consumers.
Back in 2009, the company faced negative publicity when the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics pushed for the elimination of 1, 4-dioxane and formaldehyde from their personal care products.
In 2013, Johnson & Johnson agreed to a settlement of $2.5 billion for some 8000 victims injured by their hip replacements.
This company has a long track record of failing to alert its customers to products’ potential health risks. With hundreds of lawsuits following in the wake of Jacqueline’s verdict, we hope that each of these victims receives fair compensation.
Cutler, Jacqueline, “Johnson & Johnson ordered to pay $72 million to woman who used talc for decades and died of ovarian cancer,” New York Daily News, 24 February 2016.
Falk, Kent, “Family of Alabama woman awarded $72 million over talc powder link to ovarian cancer,” AL.com, 23 February 2016.
Meier, Barry, “Johnson & Johnson in Deal to Settle Hip Implant Lawsuits,” The New York Times, 19 November 2013.
Scher Zagier, Alan, “Johnson & Johnson to Pay $72M in Talcum-Related Cancer Suit,” U.S. New & World Report, 23 Feburary 2016.
Wang, Yanan, “Johnson & Johnson ordered to pay $72 million in suit linking talcum powder to ovarian cancer,’ The Washington Post, 24 February 2016.