Jury Awards Cancer Survivor $110M Verdict in J&J Talc Powder Case

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Donnett Hickson,
Legal Staff Writer

On May 4, 2017, a St. Louis jury awarded plaintiff, Lois Slemp, a $110 million verdict in her suit against Johnson & Johnson (J&J). This was the fifth such trial in St. Louis pertaining to the controversial link between baby powder usage and ovarian cancer. Slemp was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in August 2012 after using J&J’s talc-based baby powder daily as part of her hygienic routine to maintain feminine freshness for over 30 years.

Following a trial duration of 17 days, the jury returned after a fairly swift deliberation in favor of all Slemp’s claims against J&J. The jury found that J&J was in fact guilty of conspiracy, breach of implied warranty and negligence and awarded Slemp $105 million in punitive damages and $5.4 million in compensatory damages. The jury also found that J&J was 99% at fault while the company’s talc supplier, Imerys, was found 1% responsible.

Slemp’s attorney praised the verdict in a statement stating he hopes that the verdict pushes J&J to “acknowledge the facts” and to cease putting “profits over people.” However, J&J also released a statement following the trial relaying to the public that it plans to appeal. The pharmaceutical giant argues that defense victories in other similar cases where the jury found that there was not enough scientific evidence to establish a link between talcum powder use and ovarian and uterine cancer should be precedent enough to overturn the verdict.

Further St. Louis talc trials are set for June and July and the battle between corporations and cancer patients will recommence.

The case is Lois Slemp v. Johnson & Johnson et al., case number 1422-CC09326-01, in the 22nd Judicial Circuit Court of Missouri.

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