Missouri jurors deliberated for hours following a three-week trial to examine claims that Johnson & Johnson played a role in a cancer victim’s death from years of using baby powder made with talc – a carcinogen.
This case is important to pay attention to, considering the wide proliferation of talcum powders in body care products, baby care products, cosmetics and sports.
In a verdict announced late Monday night, jurors in the circuit court of St. Louis awarded the family of Jacqueline Fox $10 million of actual damages and $62 million of punitive damages, according to the family’s lawyers and court records.
The verdict is the first by a U.S. jury to award damages over the claims, the lawyers said.
Johnson & Johnson faces claims that it, in an effort to boost sales, failed for decades to warn consumers that its talc-based products could cause cancer. About 1,000 cases have been filed in Missouri state court, and another 200 in New Jersey.
Fox, who lived in Birmingham, Alabama, claimed she used Baby Powder and Shower to Shower for feminine hygiene for more than 35 years before being diagnosed three years ago with ovarian cancer…
Sadly, Fox died last Fall at age 62. Jurors agreed that Johnson & Johnson should be accountable for fraud negligence and even conspiracy. Jere Beasley, an attorney for the family of Fox claims that Johnson & Johnson knew of talc risks as early as the 1980s but instead willfully lied to the public and the government.
But a spokeswoman retorted:
We have no higher responsibility than the health and safety of consumers, and we are disappointed with the outcome of the trial. We sympathize with the plaintiff’s family but firmly believe the safety of cosmetic talc is supported by decades of scientific evidence.
No Higher Responsibility Than the Health of Consumers?
Not so fast.
Johnson & Johnson has been taken to court many times for gross negligence that has led to some horrific injuries, even among children.
Here is just one:
Do you recognize this picture? It’s Samantha Reckis, who at age 7 had her skin burned off from the inside by using Motrin. Johnson & Johnson faced fines of $109 million for a case of skin death in 2013. In 2015, Massachusetts’s highest court upheld a fine for $63 million – some just compensation after a near-death, permanent scars, lost vision, a childhood and adolescence spent in hospitals in order to breathe, and up to 100 surgeries.
While spokespeople scramble to obfuscate talc research, there is in fact major evidence that talc powder is linked to ovarian cancer specifically. While a prospective analysis of perineal talc use and the risk of ovarian cancer concluded little support that perineal talc use increased ovarian cancer risk overall; the same conclusion acknowledges perineal talc use may modestly increase the risk of invasive serous ovarian cancer.
Perhaps the family lawyer accused Johnson & Johnson of knowing and hiding those risks because the science in the 1970s was emphatic about the risk of ovarian cancer when using the talc-based powder for female hygiene. Not only did the Lancet support those findings, but talc particles are found in removed ovarian tumors – a sign that the body is seriously protecting itself from a damaging substance. Researchers figured that the talc must be traveling up the female reproductive organs and into the ovaries. (Read more about those findings and more.)
Unsurprisingly, pro-corporate websites like USA Today have already brimmed forward with defenses for Johnson & Johnson, casting doubt to the public that talc is indeed linked to ovarian cancer. Hopefully, those readers will conduct a simple search and find out what this writer discovered – a gross conflict of interest. SC Johnson might as well own the media – court fines seem to be the built-in cost of doing business. As more of these large cases come to light, however, consumers can finally have the information they need to stop buying potentially harmful body care products linked to cancer.
This article (Johnson & Johnson Slammed With 72 Million in Fines For Cancer Death) can be republished under a Creative Commons license, with attribution to Heather Callaghan and Natural Blaze.com.
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