J&J’s Talc Appeal Denied, Mistrial Declared In First Virtual Talc Trial
The Missouri Supreme Court, on Tuesday, refused to consider Johnson & Johnson’s appeal of a $2.12 billion ovarian cancer verdict concerning their talc products.
The court let stand a June 23 state appeals court decision which reduced the original $4.69 billion verdict to $2.12 billion. The money was awarded to women who blamed asbestos in J&J’s talc products, including their baby powder, for their ovarian cancer.
J&J said it is planning on appealing the decision to the United States Supreme Court.
J&J announced in May that it would no longer sell its talc-based baby powder in the United States and Canada. The company said last month it is facing over 21,800 talc lawsuits which claim its talc products can cause cancer because they are contaminated with asbestos.
The June appeals decision said it was reasonable to conclude the evidence suggested J&J “disregarded the safety of consumers” in order to profit, despite knowing their talc products were linked with ovarian cancer. The decision found “significant reprehensibility” in J&J’s conduct.
The original complaint in the lawsuit claimed that the first study to suggest a link between talc and ovarian cancer was conducted in 1971, and that a 1982 study found a 92 percent increase in ovarian cancer risk in women who reported genital talc use.
The complaint claims J&J’s then-CEO received a letter in 1994 from the Cancer Prevention Coalition informing J&J that genital talc use posed an ovarian cancer risk, substantiating the claim by citing a recent Harvard Medical School study. The complaint states the letter requested that J&J withdraw talc products from the market since cornstarch products existed as viable alternatives.
Virtual Talc Trial Ends In Mistrial
The first virtual cosmetic talc trial, held over Zoom, ended in a mistrial on Monday after the plaintiff entered hospice over the weekend, becoming no longer able to communicate with attorneys.
Judge Stephen Kaus told jurors that the plaintiff is not expected to recover from his advance mesothelioma.
“It appears his passing away is imminent,” he said.
The judge told jurors that the plaintiff’s imminent passing required him to declare a mistrial.
“A case after someone has passed away is different from when a plaintiff is alive,” Kaus said. “It’s a difference between a personal injury case and a wrongful death case.”
The defendant claimed he developed mesothelioma because of being exposed to asbestos in cosmetic talc products and brake dust.