Johnson & Johnson wins Illinois talc liability case

Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has not been held liable for a woman’s death from ovarian cancer, which her family had blamed on decades of using its talc-based powders.

Jurors in St Clair County, Illinois, ruled in favour of  J&J after a three-week trial.

Relatives of the late Elizabeth Driscoll had sought up to $50 million in damages, saying J&J knew its baby powder and Shower to Shower products were dangerous.

Driscoll died in September 2016 at age 69, eighteen months after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

The lawsuit had been brought by her niece Colleen Cadagin, who oversees her estate.

In a statement, J&J said the verdict reflected the jury’s “careful consideration of the science and facts presented,” while adding that “we deeply sympathize with anyone suffering from cancer and know they are seeking answers.”

Leigh O’Dell, who represented Driscoll’s family, said the evidence linking genital talc to ovarian cancers remains overwhelming.

“This decision will not dissuade us from seeking justice for the thousands of women who have become victims of this disease through the corporate negligence and greed of Johnson & Johnson,” she said.

J&J, based in New Brunswick, New Jersey, faces some 34,600 lawsuits over talc-based powders.

In June the US Supreme Court rejected its bid to overturn a $2.12 billion damages award in Missouri to 22 women who blamed their ovarian cancer on its talc products.

Last year J&J set aside $3.9 billion for legal expenses, primarily for talc-related liabilities, and the company is understood to be exploring whether to move talc-related liabilities into a new company, according to reports.

The company has stopped using talc in baby powder in the US and Canada since May 2020 while still disputing it caused cancer, citing lack of demand “fuelled by misinformation around the safety of the product and a constant barrage of litigation advertising”.

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