MND, October 21, 2017 ~ Two months ago, Eva Echeverria, 63, sent the most powerful message yet to healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson over its talcum powder and a suspected link to ovarian cancer.
A Los Angeles jury awarded her $417 million in compensation and punitive damages following decades of talcum powder use.
She was suffering from end stage ovarian cancer and was not well enough to sit in her August defective product trial. She has since died.
Now a judge has thrown out that verdict, the highest yet awarded to plaintiffs seeking compensation over the talcum power/ovarian cancer link.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Maren Nelson granted a motion for a new trial agreeing with J&J that there was jury misconduct, errors at trial, an absence of malice by J&J, and that the damage award was excessive.
Reuters reports three of the 12 jurors, who were not in favor of finding the company liable, were improperly excluded from finding damages during the trial.
Echeverria’s attorney, Mark Robinson Jr. plans to appeal.
J&J’s FAVORABLE RULINGS
This is the second ruling in favor of J&J this week.
On Tuesday, the $72 million jurors awarded to the late Jacqueline Fox was overturned in a St. Louis court. Fox was from Alabama and due to a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the proper venue for cases, J&J has been challenging plaintiffs in the St. Louis court who were not from Missouri.
Spokesperson Carol Goodrich said in a statement, “Ovarian cancer is a devastating disease – but it is not caused by the cosmetic-grade talc we have used in Johnson’s Baby Powder for decades. The science is clear and we will continue to defend the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder as we prepare for additional trials in the U.S.”
At the Echeverria trial, jurors believed that Johnson & Johnson knew for decades about the risks of talc and ovarian cancer and awarded her $70 million in compensatory and $347 million in punitive damages, intended to send a strong message to J&J about its corporate behavior.
One pieces of evidence in the Echeverria trial was the fact that two other talcum powders, Spring Fresh and Angel of Mine, both contain warnings on their label about a risk of ovarian cancer.
Frequent application of talcum powder in the female genital area may increase the risk of ovarian cancer.”
“Medical evidence suggests that women who use talcum powder as a feminine hygiene product run a greater risk of developing ovarian cancer.”
Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder and its Shower to Shower powder, still have no warning on the label.
VERDICTS SO FAR
So far of the five cases heard in St. Louis, all but one has been decided for plaintiffs, delivering $307 million in favorable verdicts.
More than 14,000 women die every year from ovarian cancer which is very difficult to detect and has a low survival rate. There is no known cause but the American Cancer Society says, “some cancer-causing substances may enter the body through the vagina and pass through the uterus and fallopian tubes to reach the ovaries.”
This would explain how removing the uterus in a hysterectomy or blocking the fallopian tubes such as in a tubal ligation affects the ovarian cancer risk.
There are 4,800 pending talc/ ovarian cancer pending lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson in Missouri and California. A year ago, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) established MDL No. 2738 in New Jersey to consolidate the growing number of talcum powder/ovarian cancer cases around the country.
Wednesday, a jury in California Superior Court began hearing the talcum powder trial of Tina Herford.
Hers is the first in the nation to claim that J&J’s talcum powders contain asbestos that led to her illness. Courtroom View Network is covering the Herford trial. Subscription is required (here).
This week the talc/ovarian cancer trial of the late Shawn Blaes got underway in St. Louis. She is from a suburb within St. Louis County.