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Woman Wins $70 Million In Baby Powder Lawsuit

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A California woman is due to receive over $70 million in a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson, after a St. Louis jury ruled in her favor Thursday. The plaintiff alleged that the corporation’s baby powder gave her ovarian cancer, raising concerns about the effects of using talcum powder for long periods of time.

Deborah Giannecchini of Modesto was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012. She filed the lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson, claiming that their “negligent conduct” in making and marketing their baby powder led to her condition, ABC News reports.

Jim Onder, one of Giannecchini’s lawyers, told The Associated Press, “We are pleased the jury did the right thing. They once again reaffirmed the need for Johnson & Johnson to warn the public of the ovarian cancer risk associated with its product.”

For its part, a spokesperson for the company, Carol Goodrich, stated,

We deeply sympathize with the women and families impacted by ovarian cancer. We will appeal today’s verdict because we are guided by the science, which supports the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder.

Johnson & Johnson makes and distributes hygiene products worldwide.

Earlier this year, two other lawsuits filed in St. Louis against the same company resulted in jury verdicts awarding the plaintiffs a combined $127 million. But in New Jersey, two similar cases were dismissed by a judge who ruled that there was not sufficient evidence that talc directly causes ovarian cancer.

Ovarian cancer, a relatively rare but often deadly form of cancer, comprises around 22,000 of the 1.7 million new cancer patients predicted to be diagnosed in the country this 2016.

Some 2,000 other women have filed the same lawsuits, and lawyers are reviewing thousands of others that have stemmed from the publicity surrounding the St. Louis cases. One was $72 million granted to the relatives of a woman in Alabama who died of ovarian cancer, and another $55 million to a South Dakota woman who survived.

There are plenty of studies that have found no evidence or a weak link between ovarian cancer and baby powder in feminine hygiene. Most health groups have declared talc harmless. Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder dominates the market, and they maintain that their products are safe.

However, Onder of the Onder Law Firm in St. Louis, which represented all three winning plaintiffs, presented other research from the 1970s that connected talcum powder to ovarian cancer. He insists that studies indicate that women who use talc regularly on their genital area are 40% more likely to develop ovarian cancer.

Onder has also accused Johnson & Johnson of steering their talcum powder products towards black and Hispanic women, and overweight women, who are all at a high risk for the disease.

A woman’s risks of developing ovarian cancer are tied to age, obesity, use of estrogen, not having children, family history and genetic anomalies.

The St. Louis cases were the first regarding talcum powder to be awarded money. In 2013, a federal jury agreed with another woman from South Dakota, but no damages were ordered, the Onder Law Firm said.


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