A Missouri jury has awarded $72m to the family of a woman who died from ovarian cancer, which they say was caused by using Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder.
The civil suit by Jackie Fox of Birmingham, Alabama, was part of a broader claim in the city of St. Louis circuit court involving nearly 60 people. Her son took over as plaintiff following his mother’s October 2015 death at 62, more than two years after her diagnosis.
Marvin Salter of Jacksonville, Florida, said his late mother used the brand of talcum powder as a bathroom staple for decades. “It just became second nature, like brushing your teeth,” he said. “It’s a household name.”
An attorney for Fox said the jury verdict Monday night, which came after nearly five hours of deliberations at the conclusion of a three-week trial, was the first such case among more than 1,000 nationally to result in a jury’s monetary award.
The jury said that Fox was entitled to $10m in actual damages and $62m in punitive damages. Attorney James Onder said he “absolutely” expects Johnson & Johnson – the world’s biggest maker of healthcare products – to appeal the verdict.
The New Jersey-based company previously has been targeted by health and consumer groups over possibly harmful ingredients in items including in its Johnson’s No More Tears baby shampoo.
In May 2009, a coalition of groups called the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics began pushing Johnson & Johnson to eliminate questionable ingredients from its baby and adult personal care products. After three years of petitions, negative publicity and a boycott threat, the company agreed in 2012 to eliminate the ingredients 1,4-dioxane and formaldehyde, both considered probable human carcinogens, from all products by 2015. We had a story on Health Nut News about this that went viral to over 1 million readers who also helped make this possible. Sadly, the Johnson & Johnson “a family company” has also had some of their relatives in trouble with the law. One FAMOUS JOHNSON HEIR WHO WORKED AT J&J even plead guilty to molesting his own young step child for years.
In the trial, Fox’s attorneys introduced into evidence a September 1997 internal memo from a Johnson & Johnson medical consultant suggesting that “anybody who denies [the] risks” between “hygeinic” talc use and ovarian cancer would be publicly perceived in the same light as those who denied a link between smoking cigarettes and cancer: “Denying the obvious in the face of all evidence to the contrary.”
Monday’s verdict “doesn’t bode well for Johnson & Johnson” as it faces at least 1,200 still-pending lawsuits and possibly thousands more, she said.
“This case clearly was a bellwether, and clearly the jury has seen the evidence and found it compelling,” she said, concluding “the jury was distressed by the company’s conduct”.
Source NBC NEWS
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