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$417 million case against J&J thrown out

Published on 23/10/17 at 08:41am

A judge in California has thrown out the lawsuit made by a woman who had alleged that Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based baby powder product had caused her ovarian cancer.

The original ruling in the case had taken the side of the prosecution, with a $417 million verdict against the company – awarding Eva Echeverria $70 million in compensation and $347 in punitive damages.

The original judgement was delivered after Echeverria had used talc-based feminine hygiene products from the 1950s until 2016. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007 and passed away after the original ruling had been found in her favour.

However the judge, Maren Nelson, overturned the jury’s decision and has granted a request, from J&J, for a new trial. The reasons for this were based on errors made during the jury process and insufficient evidence for claims on both sides.

In particular, he suggested that there was no grounds to suggest that the company had acted with malice and that the damages awarded were too high.

J&J is facing thousands of such lawsuits from women across the US, with Echeverria’s being the first case heard in California.

Mark Robinson, a lawyer for plaintiff Eva Echeverria, suggested that they would appeal the decision immediately:

“We disagree with the court’s decision,” he said in an email to Bloomberg. “A jury of Ms. Echeverria’s peers found the Johnson & Johnson defendants liable. We will ask the appellate court to uphold this jury’s verdict. We will continue to fight on behalf of all women who have been impacted by this dangerous product.”

For its part, J&J released a statement through spokesperson, Carol Goodrich:

“Ovarian cancer is a devastating disease — but it is not caused by the cosmetic-grade talc we have used in Johnson's Baby Powder for decades. The science is clear and we will continue to defend the safety of Johnson's Baby Powder as we prepare for additional trials in the US”.

It is the second such minor victory that the company has achieved against the raft of lawsuits it faces. Nearly a week prior, a court in Missouri found that a $72 million award to the family of an Alabama woman was void on the basis that the state wasn’t the correct jurisdiction for the case.

Ben Hargreaves

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