A Los Angeles jury Monday awarded $417 million to an ovarian cancer patient who alleged her disease was caused by the use of Johnson & Johnson talcum powder.
Eva Echeverria, 63, of Los Angeles, was among seven women who filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court in July 2016, alleging that for years they used talcum powder sold by Imerys Talc America Inc. and Johnson & Johnson according to its instructions.
“We are grateful for the jury’s verdict on this matter and that Eva Echeverria was able to have her day in court,” said her attorney, Mark Robinson. “These cases are about fighting for justice for women all over California who are suffering from ovarian cancer because of Johnson & Johnson’s covering up the truth for so many years.”
New Brunswick, New Jersey-based Johnson & Johnson maintained that Echeverria’s allegations were not supported by scientific evidence. The company has lost four out of five similar trials over the past two years.
“We will appeal today’s verdict because we are guided by the science, which supports the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder,”‘ Johnson & Johnson said in a statement.
Echeverria said she began using the talcum powder when she was 11 years old and did not stop until January 2016, when she saw a news story about another woman who also had ovarian cancer and had used the product. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007, when doctors removed a softball-sized tumor.
She said she would have stopped using the powder if Johnson & Johnson had warned her about its dangers on the label.
The verdict following a four-week trial at the Central Civil West courthouse — consisting of $70 million in compensatory damages and $347 million in punitive damages — was the largest yet in lawsuits alleging Johnson & Johnson failed to adequately warn consumers about the cancer risks of its talc-based products and the first in California to go to trial.
Echeverria’s complaint stated that studies in 1971 and 1982 revealed a link between talc and ovarian cancer. Based on the studies and other allegations of later public health studies and other information, she alleged that the company was aware, or should have known, it was marketing a product harmful to women.