A Superior Court judge in a Los Angeles County has reversed a $417 Million jury award to give Johnson & Johnson its second win within a week in its continuing legal battle over its talc product. The award is the largest judicial verdict that Johnson & Johnson has won so far.
The manufacturer’s first win came in a case in Missouri due to procedural grounds. However, the decision in the California case has created doubt on the supporting evidence that associated talc with cancer.
The ruling rendered on October 20 was for the case of Eva Echevarria, who claimed that her ovarian cancer was connected to her use of Johnson’s talcum powder for decades for feminine hygiene.
The California judge decided that there was no sufficient evidence presented to link talc to ovarian cancer and to support the verdict on Ms. Echevarria’s case. The judge added that the jury awarded incorrectly determined and excessive damages.
Ms. Echevarria’s lawyer, Mark P Robinson Jr., issued a statement that he would appeal the ruling in August even though his client has died.
Mr. Robinson said that they will continue the fight on behalf of the women who have been affected by the dangerous product.
Another 4,800 plaintiffs nationwide have filed similar lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson for similar accusations about the company’s talc-based products.
Carol Goodrich of Johnson & Johnson defended the safety of using Johnson’s Baby Powder. She said that there is clear scientific proof that ovarian cancer is “not caused by the cosmetic-grade talc we have used” for the baby powder for decades.
St Louis Cases
The viability of similar cases filed in Missouri is now doubtful after the reversal of a $72 Million verdict by the Missouri court of appeals in the eastern district. The court said that St Louis was not the proper place to file and try the case.
The verdict in 2016 had been Johnson & Johnson’s first loss in a Missouri court. The lawsuit’s complainant was the family of Jacqueline Fox, a resident of Alabama who died of ovarian cancer. The family claimed that Ms. Fox’s ovarian cancer was caused by her use of the company’s products that contained talc.
The US Supreme Court has ruled in the Bristol-Myers Squibb v Superior Court of California case on June 19 that state courts don’t have the full authority to try claims against companies based outside of their jurisdictions for injuries that did not happen there. Based on this Supreme Court ruling, the court in St Louis declared a mistrial on the talc cases against Johnson & Johnson.
Ms. Fox’s lawsuit included 64 other plaintiffs who, except for two, were not Missouri residents.
St Louis courts have also ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $55 Million, $110 Million and $70 Million to plaintiffs in three separate cases. Some of the cases had non-resident plaintiffs.