In the first jury award of its kind, a Missouri jury has awarded $72 million in damages to a woman’s family who claim her longtime use of Johnson & Johnson baby powder contributed to the ovarian cancer that killed her.
Jacqueline Fox passed away in October 2015 at age 62 after fighting cancer for two and a half years. Shortly after being diagnosed with Stage 3 ovarian cancer, Fox contacted lawyers one night after seeing a television ad about talc, a main ingredient in the powder she had used for 35 years.
Following her death, her son Marvin Salter of Jacksonville, Florida took over her role as plaintiff. He referred to his mother’s use of the powders as “second nature, like brushing your teeth.
If you or a loved one using Johnson & Johnson baby powder has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, contact us for a free consultation.
Fox was one of more than 1,200 women who have sued Johnson & Johnson for failing to warn consumers of the dangers associated with talc, the mineral used in baby powder. Jurors heard from Fox in an audio deposition that was recorded a few months before her death, but what really sealed the deal according to one juror, Jerome Kendrick, was a Johnson & Johnson internal memo.
The memo in question was from a medical consultant and was dated September 1997. In the memo the consultant suggested that “anybody who denies [the] risks" between "hygienic" talc use and ovarian cancer will be publicly perceived in the same light as those who denied a link between smoking cigarettes and cancer: "denying the obvious in the face of all evidence to the contrary."
Mr. Kendrick said that the minimum Johnson & Johnson had to do was “put a warning label on the box but they didn’t. They did nothing.” As a result the jury awarded the family of Ms. Fox $72 million. $10 million of that was for actual damages while the other $62 million, one million for each year of her life according to Mr. Kendrick, was awarded for punitive damages.
The lawyers who represented Ms. Fox fully expect Johnson & Johnson to appeal the verdict.
Carol Goodrich, a spokeswoman for Johnson & Johnson, said in an email Tuesday, "We have no higher responsibility than the health and safety of consumers, and we are disappointed with the outcome of the trial."
Goodrich added, "We sympathize with the plaintiff’s family but firmly believe the safety of cosmetic talc is supported by decades of scientific evidence."
There is a chance the verdict will be reduced in appellate courts, but the future does not look bright for Johnson & Johnson. Apart from the 1,200 lawsuits the pharmaceutical giant is facing for the talc in its baby powder, lawsuits have been filed against Johnson & Johnson for a variety of allegedly dangerous medicines and medical devices, such as Levaquin and vaginal mesh.
We at Morgan & Morgan believe successful verdicts for victims of pharmaceutical negligence such as this one are exactly what’s needed to deter large corporations from putting profits over people. Contact us for a free confidential consultation.