Jury in Missouri orders pharmaceutical company to pay damages to family of deceased woman who claimed talcum powder caused her cancer

Johnson & Johnson was ordered by a Missouri state jury to pay US$72mil (RM304mil) in damages to the family of a woman whose death from ovarian cancer was linked to her use of the company’s talc-based Baby Powder and Shower to Shower for several decades.

In a verdict announced late Monday night, jurors in the circuit court of St Louis awarded the family of Jacqueline Fox US$10mil (RM42mil) of actual damages and US$62mil (RM262mil) of punitive damages, according to the family’s lawyers and court records.

The verdict is the first by a US jury to award damages over the claims, the lawyers said.

The civil suit by Jackie Fox of Birmingham was part of a broader claim in the city of St. Louis Circuit Court involving nearly 60 people. Her son took over as plaintiff following his mother’s October 2015 death at 62, more than two years after her diagnosis.

Marvin Salter of Jacksonville, Fla., said his late mother, who was a foster parent, used the iconic talcum powder as a bathroom staple for decades.

“It just became second nature, like brushing your teeth,” he said. “It’s a household name.”

A Fox attorney said the jury verdict Monday night, which came after nearly five hours of deliberations at the conclusion of a three-week trial, was the first such case among more than 1,000 nationally to result in a jury’s monetary award.

Johnson & Johnson faces claims that it, in an effort to boost sales, failed for decades to warn consumers that its talc-based products could cause cancer. About 1,000 cases have been filed in Missouri state court, and another 200 in New Jersey.

Carol Goodrich, a Johnson & Johnson spokeswoman, said: “We have no higher responsibility than the health and safety of consumers, and we are disappointed with the outcome of the trial. We sympathize with the plaintiff’s family but firmly believe the safety of cosmetic talc is supported by decades of scientific evidence.”

Trials in several other talc lawsuits have been set for later this year, according to Danielle Mason, who also represented Fox’s family at trial.