On May 2, a jury in the City of St. Louis Circuit Court awarded Plaintiff Gloria Ristesund $55 million in her lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson alleging her ovarian cancer was caused by the company’s talcum powder products. Ms. Ristesund used Johnson’s Baby Powder for more than 40 years for feminine hygiene. The jury’s award included $5 million for actual damages and an additional $50 million in punitive damages. This was the third trial in which Johnson & Johnson was found liable for ovarian cancer linked to its talc-containing products, and the second trial to award damages to the Plaintiff.
Beasley Allen attorney Ted Meadows noted that punitive damages are intended to punish a company for wrongdoing. Evidence provided at trial showed J&J has been aware of a link between talcum powder use in the genital areas and an increased risk for ovarian cancer for decades but refused to warn the public. A study led by Dr. Daniel Cramer, head of the Obstetrics and Gynecology Epidemiology Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, was published in the medical journal Epidemiology in March. The report noted that women who routinely apply talc to their genitals have a 33 percent higher risk of developing ovarian cancer.