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CA jury delivers $417 million verdict against J&J in failure to warn case

Readers may have heard about the recent product liability lawsuit involving allegations that Johnson & Johnson failed to warn consumers of the dangers talc-containing products posed when used over time. The lawsuit, which resulted in a $417 million jury verdict, was brought by a 63-year-old woman dying of ovarian cancer who had used talc-containing Johnson & Johnson products for most of her life.

The woman’s attorneys argued at trial that Johnson & Johnson knew of the connection between talc and ovarian cancer, but failed to warn consumers about the danger. They cited a study from 1982 showing that women who used talc for feminine hygiene had a 92 percent increased risk of developing ovarian cancer. The lead researcher behind that study had recommended that the company warn of the risk on its product labels. 

Attorneys representing Johnson & Johnson, though, argued that multiple scientific studies show no connection between its talc-containing products and ovarian cancer. For example, a Harvard study from 2000 found no overall association between talc and one form of ovarian cancer, and only a modest increase in risk between talc and the type of ovarian cancer the woman in the case had.

Johnson & Johnson faces numerous lawsuits alleging a connection between talc and ovarian cancer—over 4,500 nationwide. While the company had won some of these suits, this week’s verdict is one of several recent losses for the company.

In our next post, we’ll continue looking at this story, and the importance of businesses working with experienced legal counsel in product liability defense

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