Tuesday St. Louis jurors began to be presented with evidence in the third talc trial this year against Johnson and Johnson. According to Law360., in the opening arguments jurors were introduced to the plaintiff Deborah Giannecchini, who was diagnosed with Stage 4 ovarian cancer. Complications from her treatment have greatly reduced her life expectancy.
“She has literally had her spleen removed, part of her stomach removed, part of her colon removed, all of her ovaries, uterus. She has literally had basically the lower half of her body removed,” said R. Allen Smith, Jr., one of the lead attorneys in the ongoing talc litigation. “She said if there would have been a warning on the bottle to not use this on the genital area, she would not have done it and we might not be here.”
Law360 reports that a cosmetics expert testified on Wednesday that a 1982 study linking talc to ovarian cancer, which confirmed a decade of research on the subject, should have been enough evidence that talc used in the genital area was a possible cancer risk for Johnson and Johnson to have put a warning label on its product. This expert produced documents showing that by 1994 Johnson and Johnson, definitely aware of the cancer risk, suggested the government pay for studies to examine talc’s safety rather than take responsibility to do it, Law360 reported.
“If you want to be self-regulated, step up to the plate and pay for the studies,” said David C. Steinberg, who runs the cosmetic and topical over-the-counter-drug compliance consulting firm Steinberg & Associates and who founded the Cosmetic Preservatives Council. “If you don’t want to be self-regulated, then have the taxpayers pay for it. I don’t think you can have it both ways.”
Giannecchini is suing both Johnson and Johnson and its talc supplier Imerys Talc America Inc. alleging that in spite of their knowledge that talc used for feminine hygiene might increase risk of ovarian cancer they refused to warn consumers and this makes them liable for her ovarian cancer.
Johnson and Johnson has been found liable by juries for three other women’s cancer; two of the trials took place earlier this year. In February, the company was ordered to pay $10 million in compensatory damages and $62 million in punitive damages to the family of deceased plaintiff Jacqueline Fox, who died of ovarian cancer just before her case went to trial. In May, the jury found in favor of ovarian cancer survivor Gloria Ristesund with a $55 million verdict.