In the fourth St. Louis talcum powder trial against defendant Johnson & Johnson, the jury reached a verdict after deliberating for several hours. The plaintiff in the trial was a 55-year old Tennessee woman, Nora Daniels. Daniels had used Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder for more than 38 years and was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2013. As more than a thousand of other women nation-wide, Nora claimed that her ovarian cancer was caused by the Johnson & Johnson baby powder that she so often used. She believed that the corporation should have clearly alerted consumers about the link between talc (an active ingredient in Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder) and ovarian cancer.
This St. Louis trial marked the first win for the corporation, after being found at fault during three previous trials that occurred last year. During those three first trials, the juries decided against the company and awarded plaintiffs nearly $200 million in damages. In each trial, the Plaintiffs brought up the fact that the tactics used by J&J to cover up the dangerous ingredients in their product have been very similar to those used by the big tobacco industry to sway users from information surrounding the harm associated with cigarettes. The multi-billion-dollar company has maintained the notion that scientific evidence supports the safety of talc in its products, the discovery process within the trial found that J&J has had knowledge of the potential negative effects associated with talc since 1982. According to Ms. Daniels’ attorney during his closing argument at trial, “J&J was aware of more than 30 epidemiological studies tying the use of talcum to a higher risk of ovarian cancer over the last 38 years.” In response to this, J&J executives have hired companies to research the connection between talc and ovarian cancer, in an attempt to prove their mutual exclusivity.
Additionally, it was revealed during the trials that J&J maintains internal marketing documents that evidence their tactics in which the company uses its significant political clout to find loopholes around health regulations in order to stay profitable. While it is understandable that a business would want to yield a large profit, a line must be drawn at causing harm, pain, and sometimes even death to customers. Even with the numerous lawsuits filed against the company for manufacturing potentially unsafe products, the corporate giant still reported a whopping $71.9 billion in sales for 2016.
Although the last trial was unsuccessful for Plaintiffs, wronged customers who were affected by Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based products will continue to come forward to bring charges against the company and seek retribution. The next trial against J&J is set for April.
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