Talcum Powder Lawsuit Settlements
Women Awarded Millions in Damages for Ovarian Cancer Claims
Monday, September 30, 2019 - In 2013, the first case to make it before a jury was that of Ms. Deane Berg, of South Dakota. Ms. Berg was diagnosed with Stage 3 ovarian cancer that had spread to her lymph nodes. She had been using J&J talc products routinely for decades and learned about a possible link between the product and her diagnosis. J&J offered to settle out of court with Ms. Berg for $1.3 million, which the plaintiff declined. More important to her than money was the responsibility she felt to move forward with the talcum powder lawsuit in hopes she could bring public attention to the matter. While Ms. Berg ultimately did not receive monetary damages, a federal jury decided in her favor, finding that talc products were a factor in her condition. In many ways, Ms. Berg paved the way for other women who came after her.
Approximately 14,000 talcum powder lawsuit cases are pending in U.S. courts against Johnson & Johnson. Filed by and one behalf of women who have suffered from ovarian cancer after using tac-based products manufactured by the pharmaceutical giant, these cases could result in significant compensation for the plaintiffs. Forbes estimates the cost of settling all of these claims could total $4 billion. Many cases have already been resolved in courts around the nation, setting a precedent for damages to be awarded on a widespread basis.
The first major victory came in February 2016, when the estate of Ms.Jacqueline Fox was awarded $72 million in damages in U.S. District Court in St. Louis, Missouri. Ms. Fox was diagnosed with ovarian cancer after using talc product every day for 35 years, according to the court filings. She was awarded $10 million in compensatory damages, and another $62 million was assigned in punitive damages. Ms. Fox died of ovarian cancer months before the verdict was decided.
Ms. Fox's case unleashed a stream of talcum powder lawsuit verdicts, starting with a $55 million award to Gloria Ristesund in May of 2016. Next came $70 million verdict in the case of Deborah Giannecchini several months later, in October of 2016. From there, the damage awards only rose: $110 million to Lois Slemp in May of 2017; $417 million in the case of Eva Echeverria in August of the same year; and then a staggering $4.7 billion awarded to 22 women in St. Louis Circuit Court, representing an average of $213 million per plaintiff.
Product liability litigation experts say this string of successful litigation against Johnson & Johnson sets a precedent for the company to establish a compensation fund for women harmed by talc products. Forbes estimates the average award for these claims will be $280,000 per plaintiff, for a total of $4 billion. The company currently has approximately $14 billion cash-in-hand. Imerys Talc America has also been named as a defendant in several of these cases. Responsible for mining the raw talc used for decades in Johnson & Johnson products, Imerys Talc America and two of its subsidiaries, Imerys Talc Vermont and Imerys Canada Inc., declared bankruptcy in February of 2019 due to the threat of litigation. The company has plans to establish a compensation fund for settlements.