After three straight courtroom losses, fourth talc trial ends in defense verdict for Johnson & Johnson.
By Laurence Banville
A jury in Missouri state court has sided with Johnson & Johnson, finding that the company's talcum powder did not contribute to a 55-year-old plaintiff's ovarian cancer. Johnson & Johnson announced the win, the company's first talc-related victory after four trials, on Friday, March 10, 2017, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Talc supplier Imerys was also exonerated of liability in the trial, which lasted nearly one month.
In Wake Of $192M In Verdicts, Jury Sides With J&JNora Daniels, a resident of Columbia, Tennessee, sued Johnson & Johnson, along with the company's main talc supplier, Imerys Talc, after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2013. In her lawsuit, Daniels claims to have used Johnson & Johnson talcum powder products on a nearly daily basis for 35 years. Daniels' claim was the fourth lawsuit to see trial in St. Louis and only the first to be decided in favor of the multi-national healthcare giant. To date, ovarian cancer patients have been awarded a combined total of $197 million by state court juries in Missouri.
Jurors: Evidence Insufficient To Require WarningsInterviewed by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 34-year-old juror Luke Wilson said the jurors weren't convinced by the evidence linking genital usage of talcum powder products to an increased risk of ovarian cancer. The majority of jurors, eleven out of twelve, held this view, believing the evidence was insufficient to require Johnson & Johnson to strengthen the product's warnings. After nearly seven hours of deliberation, only one juror, George Stair, a 76-year-old resident of St. Louis, remained as the jury's lone dissenting opinion. Stair said, "I think there was enough [evidence], but obviously I didn't carry the day. I wish we could have sent a message to Johnson & Johnson to put a warning on the product label." The agreement of at least nine jurors was required to make the decision binding.
While disappointed in the verdict, Daniels' attorney says that the jury's decisions "helps define what cases should and shouldn't be compensated." Noting three previous jury verdicts in favor of plaintiffs, the lawyer suggested that the jury wasn't convinced of a link to his client's specific form of ovarian cancer. Two more trials are scheduled to begin in the St. Louis state court in April and June of 2017. In a statement emailed to Courtroom View Network, a second attorney noted that Nora Daniels' case had been selected for trial by Johnson & Johnson. "As always," the lawyer said, "we will learn from the experience of this trial, and we are committed to carrying the fight forward with the legal claims of thousands of innocent victims whose lives have been shattered by ovarian cancer."
More Talcum Powder Trials Scheduled In MissouriAround 2,000 lawsuits have been filed against Johnson & Johnson over talc's link to ovarian cancer, which is supported by over four decades of medical research but remains a point of contention in the scientific community. Most of these talc lawsuits are currently pending in the Missouri state court in Missouri, although a considerable docket is also awaiting trial in a New Jersey federal court. Last month, Johnson & Johnson's bid to have nearly 2,000 lawsuits removed from the court in St. Louis was denied by the State's Supreme Court. Outraged by the spate of recent talc trial losses, business lobbying groups have called Missouri's state courts the "most unfair" jurisdiction for defendants locked in civil litigation.
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