LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — After a four-week trial, a Los Angeles jury Monday ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay a record $417 million to a woman, who claimed the talc in the company’s iconic baby powder caused her ovarian cancer.
Eva Echeverria, 63, of Los Angeles, was among seven women who filed lawsuits in Los Angeles Superior Court in July 2016.
She alleged the company failed to adequately warn consumers about the potential cancer risks.
“We are grateful for the jury’s verdict on this matter and that Eva Echeverria was able to have her day in court,” said her attorney, Mark Robinson. “These cases are about fighting for justice for women all over California who are suffering from ovarian cancer because of Johnson & Johnson’s covering up the truth for so many years.”
In her tearful testimony, she talked about how her daughter cared for her after her diagnosis 10 years ago. “I was diagnosed when she was 16 years old. She couldn’t graduate until she was 21 because she was taking care of me. I feel like she was cheated out of her teen years because she had to stop and take care of me,” Echeverria said.
Echeverria’s complaint stated that studies in 1971 and 1982 revealed a link between talc and ovarian cancer. Based on the studies and other allegations of later public health studies and other information, she alleged that the company was aware, or should have known, it was marketing a product harmful to women.
She used the baby powder for 41 years. According to the American Cancer Society, many studies have been done on a possible link between the product and ovarian cancer. Buy the results have been mixed.
“In medicine, we usually say association does not mean causation. So until further information is forthcoming, I recommend patients to be cautious,” advised Dr. Anthony Picket with Dignity Health California Hospital.
Johnson & Johnson, based in New Brunswick, N.J., maintained that scientific evidence did not support Echeverria’s allegations. A spokeswoman said the company will appeal the jury’s decision.
The verdict consisted of $70 million in compensatory damages and $347 million in punitive damages.
The verdict was a huge legal victory for Echeverria. But it won’t cure her cancer. “I have a grandson. When he hugs me and kisses me, it makes me sad because I don’t know how long I’m going to be able to tell him that I love him,”
It was the largest lawsuit of its kind and the first in California to go to trial.
The company has lost four out of five similar lawsuits. A St. Louis, Missouri jury ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $110.5 million to a woman, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012 and had used talcum powder.
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