Judge Overturns Record Verdict in Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Trial


Echeverria was not the first person to go after Johnson & Johnson claiming its Baby Powder caused cancer, and she may not be the last.

"I think we have a strong appeal, based on what the jury found", he said, adding that he's not aware of any of the grounds for overturning the verdict cited by Judge Nelson.

A case-control study published a year ago, for example, found an increased risk of invasive epithelial ovarian cancer among African-American women who use genital powder, and suggested that it may produce an inflammatory response when particles are inhaled.

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Labeling a jury's award of $417 million in damages as "excessive", a Judge for the Los Angeles Superior Court has reversed the latest talcum powder verdict, granting Johnson & Johnson's request for a new trial. The $417 million verdict was the third-largest jury award in the U.S.so far this year, according to news reports.

"We disagree with the court's decision". Unless their lawyers can come up with better evidence than Echeverria - or unless scientific developments boost causation theories - Judge Nelson's decision is ominous for plaintiffs and a boon for J&J and its subsidiary. "Ovarian cancer is a devastating disease - but it is not caused by the cosmetic-grade talc we have used in Johnson's Baby Powder for decades", said Carol Goodrich, a spokeswoman for Johnson & Johnson Consumer, in a statement after Friday's reversal of the Echeverria case. "A jury of Ms. Echeverria's peers found the Johnson and Johnson defendants liable". "The science is clear and we will continue to defend the safety of Johnson's Baby Powder as we prepare for additional trials in the U.S".

And, of course, the company continues to contend there are no links between talc products (like Johnson and & Johnson Baby Powder or Shower to Shower) and ovarian cancer.

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Together, the decisions are a major lift for a drugmaker that's facing 4,800 talc cases around the country.

As Reuters reports, Judge Maren Nelson's October 23 decision may end up being a major blow to almost 5,000 lawsuits that claim talc-based products cause ovarian cancer. Several are based in California; Echeverria's was the first to be brought to trial there. (The plaintiff, in that case, was a woman from Alabama who died but the case was tried in Missouri raising questions over jurisdiction). Johnson & Johnson has been arguing that there are jurisdictional issues in those cases, as the plaintiffs lived out of state. The circuit court will have to prove that it is the right jurisdiction to hear the case.

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