Johnson & Johnson, a global manufacturer of household products, was recently ordered to pay a $72 million judgment to the family of a woman who died from ovarian cancer. The decedent’s illness was linked to her use of Johnson & Johnson’s Shower to Shower and Baby Powder products over a number of decades.
The jury’s verdict included $10 million in compensatory damages and a whopping $62 million in punitive damages, which is a special type of damages designed to punish a defendant for reckless, wanton, or willful conduct while also serving as a deterrent to other companies and actors.
The lawsuit alleged that the company failed to provide warnings about the potential risk of developing cancer associated with its talcum powder products in order to increase product sales and profits. According to evidence offered at trial, Johnson & Johnson knew that its talcum powder products posed the risk of cancer as early as the 1980s, but it failed to disclose this information to the general public or regulatory officials.
The complaint also alleged that the Alabama-based decedent used the two products for feminine hygiene purposes before she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer roughly three years before her passing. The plaintiff passed away at the age of 62 as a result of the cancer.
After a three-week trial on the matter, the jury determined that the manufacturer was liable based on a number of theories, including conspiracy, fraud, and negligence. A negligence claim is based on the idea that we each owe one another a duty to act with the same reasonable care and skill that an ordinary and prudent person would use in a similar situation. When it comes to product manufacturers, these companies have a duty to ensure that their products are reasonably safe and that they provide adequate warnings regarding any dangers.
A plaintiff may also bring a product liability claim to recover compensation from a manufacturer. To prevail on this theory, the plaintiff must prove that the product is designed in an unreasonably dangerous manner, that the specific unit the plaintiff received suffered from a manufacturing defect that rendered it unreasonably dangerous, or that the defendant failed to provide proper warnings or safety instructions with the product.
Roughly 1,000 similar lawsuits have been filed in Missouri against the company, and another 200 have been filed in New Jersey. Many of these lawsuits are slated to go to trial later this year. In 2013, a South Dakota jury returned a verdict in favor of another plaintiff who alleged that she contracted cancer as the result of using Johnson & Johnson’s talcum products, but the jury did not award any damages.
If you or someone you love has suffered injuries as the result of a defective or dangerous product, you may be entitled to compensation. At Moll Law Group, we pride ourselves on providing each of our clients with the compassionate, personalized, and dedicated legal counsel that they deserve. Representing clients throughout the United States, including in California, Florida, New York, and Illinois, we can help you determine the legal rights and remedies available to you and your family. Call us at 312-462-1700 or contact us online to set up your free consultation.