Jury Slaps J&J with $55M Ruling on Talc Products

     ST. LOUIS (CN) — A St. Louis jury has once again ordered a huge award against Johnson & Johnson on claims that its talcum powder causes ovarian cancer.
     The jury awarded $5 million in compensation and $50 million in punitive damages to Gloria Ristesund of South Dakota on Monday evening.
     It is the second big ruling against Johnson & Johnson by a St. Louis jury in three months. In February, a jury awarded the family of an Alabama woman $72 million for similar claims.
     Johnson & Johnson, the world’s largest maker of health care products, faces more than 1,000 similar lawsuits nationwide.
     Ristensund’s attorney, Jim Onder, argued that researchers began linking talcum powder to ovarian cancer in the 1970s, and he said internal Johnson & Johnson documents showed that the company was aware of those studies.
     “The evidence is real clear that Johnson & Johnson has known about the dangers associated with talcum powder for over 30 years,” Onder told the A.P. “Instead of giving a warning, what they did was targeted the groups most at risk for developing ovarian cancer,” specifically marketing to overweight women, he said.
     Ristensund’s victory was narrow, with jurors voting 9-3 in her favor. The jury struggled to agree on whether talc was a contributing factor in ovarian cancer, jury forewoman Teri Brickey, 45, of St. Louis, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
     Johnson & Johnson, based in New Jersey, will appeal the ruling.
     “Unfortunately, the jury’s decision goes against 30 years of studies by medical experts around the world that continue to support the safety of cosmetic talc,” Johnson & Johnson spokeswoman Carol Goodrich said in a statement.
     “For over 100 years, Johnson & Johnson has provided consumers with a safe choice for cosmetic powder products and we will continue to work hard to exceed consumer expectations and evolving product preferences.”

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