John Breslin Aug. 23, 2016, 12:28pm


NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (Legal Newsline) – Johnson & Johnson believes it has “strong grounds” for appeals against two multimillion-dollar jury verdicts that linked the company’s talcum powder product and ovarian cancer.

Plaintiffs lawyers in the two cases that went to trial in Missouri “deliberately created confusion about the science of talc,” the company argues.

The comments are in response to a report in Legal Newsline that revealed 17,000 individuals contacted a law firm in the weeks after the family of a deceased Alabama woman was awarded $72 million by a jury.

In a second trial, the plaintiff was awarded $55 million in compensatory and punitive damages.

But Johnson & Johnson said it is committed to a vigorous and long-term defense of the safety of its baby powder product.

“Plaintiffs’ lawyers have deliberately created confusion about the science of talc at trial,” Gene Williams, outside counsel for Johnson & Johnson, told Legal Newsline.

“Though it’s been discussed as a hypothesis and carefully studied for decades, there is no proven linkage between talc and ovarian cancer.

“Unfortunately, this deliberate confusion led to jury decisions that went against the decades of studies by medical experts around the world that continue to support the safety of cosmetic talc."

Williams said the company has strong grounds for appeals because the “medical and scientific evidence does not support the juries’ findings, and we are committed to the vigorous and long-term defense of the safety of the product.”

The jury awards, reached in February and May, are likely to be followed by thousands of claims by women alleging a link between talc and ovarian cancer, and allegations Johnson & Johnson knew of a potential connection.

Jere Beasley, his Alabama firm Beasley Allen and lawyers in Missouri have 750 pending cases involving either individuals claiming they suffered ovarian cancer because of their use of talc or family members of those deceased.

Of the estimated 17,000 that contacted his law offices, Beasley said his team and partners are investigating close to 12,000.

Beasley represented Jacqueline Fox, a 62-year-old from Birmingham, Ala., who died while the case against Johnson & Johnson was still pending. Her son was added as a plaintiff after her death.

A jury in St. Louis awarded the family $10 million in compensatory damages and $62 million in punitive damages - $1 million for every year of her life, a juror explained to Beasley after the three-week trial ended in February. It was much more than the legal team had asked for, or expected

“I would have been shocked if it had been a verdict for the defendant,” Beasley told Legal Newsline. “But I was surprised at the amount and the reason for it.”

The American Cancer Society said more research is needed. For any individual woman, if there is an increased risk, the overall increase is likely to very be small, the society notes on its website.

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