Retrial ordered in Baby Talcum Powder

Cancer Case

An Appeal Court in the United States has ordered a retrial in relation to a case in which a woman who says that the baby powder made by Johnson & Johnson caused her Cancer was awarded $417m.

The Court of Appeal in Los Angeles stated that the conflicting evidence at Trial in relation to the link between the use of the product and the Cancer contracted by the Claimant justified ordering a retrial of the Action. The Appeal Court however did say that it found that there was sufficient evidence to uphold the finding of the initial Court before a Jury that the Company failed to warn the Claimant, Eva Echeverria about the health risks of the Talcum based powder.

Johnson & Johnson has been on the receiving end of an avalanche of law suits alleging that the Company was aware that the powder could cause various types of Cancer but failed to act on the knowledge which the Plaintiffs say it had. A number of Courts in various parts of the country have made awards against Johnson & Johnson. Examples are an award last May by a New York Jury of $325m against Johnson & Johnson in favour of a woman who blamed her asbestos related Cancer on use of the powder and a further award of $10m by a California Jury in favour of a woman dying of asbestosis arising from use of the Company’s Talcum powder which she says caused her Cancer.

Last month an Appeal Court in Missouri overturned an award of $70m to a California woman who had received that award from a Jury in St. Louis in 2016 which Jury held that use of the powder had caused her Cancer. The award was overturned on jurisdictional grounds.

Johnson & Johnson are dealing with in excess of 13,000 claims most of which allege that the products manufactured by it caused Ovarian Cancer and Mesothelioma which is a rare Cancer linked to exposure to asbestos but this is denied by Johnson & Johnson.

Eva Echeverria was awarded $70m for General Damages and $347m for Punitive Damages by a Jury in Los Angeles in October 2017. After the conclusion of the Trial she died. Subsequently a Superior Court Judge in California overturned that award.

Now a further Appeal Court said that the total overturning of the award was wrong and has sent the matter back for retrial in relation to causation and the adequacy or otherwise of the warning. The Appeal Court also ruled that there was not sufficient evidence to make an award of Punitive Damages in the absence of a finding of malice. See previous article on this topic

If you require any further detail or advice, please contact John Reid in O’Rourke Reid
Dial: +353 1 240 1200

This document is for information purposes only and does not purport to represent legal advice.  
© O’Rourke Reid 2019