A Los Angeles jury ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay a record $417 million in damages to a hospitalized California woman after she claimed in a lawsuit that talc in the company's baby powder causes ovarian cancer.
Eva Echeverria alleged that the company failed to warn consumers about potential cancer risks of its baby powder product when applied regularly for feminine hygiene.
The verdict served in the California lawsuit marks largest sum awarded in a series of talcum powder lawsuit verdicts against Johnson & Johnson in courts around the U.S. (Three other trials in St. Louis had similar outcomes last year, with juries awarding damages of $72 million, $70.1 million, and $55 million.)
Echeverria said in her lawsuit that she used Johnson & Johnson's baby powder on a daily basis from the 1950s until 2016 and was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007 as a "proximate result of the unreasonably dangerous and defective nature of talcum powder."
Her attorney, Mark Robinson, said that Echeverria is undergoing cancer treatment in the hospital and told him that she hopes the verdict will lead the company to put a warning on its packaging.
"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," Robinson told the Associated Press. "She really didn't want sympathy," he added. "She just wanted to get a message out to help these other women."
Robinson also said that evidence in the case included internal company documents over the course of decades that "showed the jury that Johnson & Johnson knew about the risks of talc and ovarian cancer," Robinson said.
"Johnson & Johnson had many warning bells over a 30 year period but failed to warn the women who were buying its product," he said.
A spokesperson for the company, Carol Goodrich, said that Johnson & Johnson will be appealing the verdict. She said that while the company sympathizes with women suffering from ovarian cancer, scientific evidence supports the safety of the baby powder.
In addition to the aformentioned St. Louis outcomes, thousands of other similar lawsuits have been filed against Johnson & Johnson. Some have been dismissed for not providing enough evidence supporting the link between talc and cancer, while others have won much lower amounts than Evecherria's verdict.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Robinson Calcagnie / Attorney