A St. Louis jury has awarded a Virginia woman a record-setting $110.5 million in the latest lawsuit alleging that using a Johnson & Johnson baby powder caused cancer.
The jury ruling Thursday night for 62-year-old Louis Slemp, of Wise, Virginia, comes after three previous St. Louis juries awarded a total of $197 million to plaintiffs who made similar claims.
Slemp was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012. It has since spread to her liver. She blamed her cancer on her use of the company’s talcum-containing products for more than 40 years.
Although she was too ill to attend the trial, an audiotape of her deposition testimony was played. In it, she said, “I trusted Johnson & Johnson. Big mistake.”
About 2,000 women nationwide have filed similar suits over concerns about health damage caused by extended talcum powder use.
Johnson & Johnson said in a statement that it would appeal and disputed the scientific evidence behind the plaintiffs’ allegations.
The company also noted that a St. Louis jury found in its favour in March and that two cases in New Jersey were thrown out by a judge who said there wasn’t reliable evidence that talc leads to ovarian cancer, Los Angeles Times reports.
“We are preparing for additional trials this year, and we will continue to defend the safety of Johnson’s Baby Powder,” the statement said.
The suit also named supplier Imerys Talc, which had also been held accountable in only one other talcum case. Imerys in a statement, said that it is “confident in the consensus of government agencies and professional scientific organisations that have reviewed the safety of talc.”
Talc is a mineral that is mined from deposits around the world, including in the U.S. The softest of minerals, it’s crushed into a white powder. It has been widely used in cosmetics and other personal care products to absorb moisture since at least
It has been widely used in cosmetics and other personal care products to absorb moisture since at least 1894 when Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder was launched. But it’s mainly used in a variety of other products, including paint and plastics.
Much research has found no link or a weak one between ovarian cancer and using baby powder for feminine hygiene, and most major health groups have declared talc harmless. Still, the International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies the genital use of talc as “possibly carcinogenic.”
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