In the fifth such claim in recent months, Johnson & Johnson in the United States of America has been ordered to pay out $417 million (£323m) to a woman who has satisfied a jury that she developed terminal ovarian cancer from use of Johnson’s baby powder.
Despite the spate of judgments against them, Johnson & Johnson maintain that their product is safe and allege that they continue to be guided by the science on talcum powder. In the US there are currently 4800 claims being made by women suffering with ovarian cancer who allege they have used Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder throughout their lives.
The staggering pay-outs in the past few claims have represented payments of compensatory damages (in this case $70 million US dollars) and punitive damages in the sum of $347 million.
Such figures are no doubt attracting considerable attention from UK claimant solicitors who are likely to have Johnson & Johnson in their sights.
One of the key issues in the US is Johnson & Johnson’s knowledge of the risks presented by use of their baby powder. It has been successfully argued in both Missouri and California that Johnson & Johnson sold its product to women despite knowing of studies linking ovarian cancer to genital talcum powder use.
What this means for you
Given the rigorous approach to causation in UK cancer claims, it remains to be seen whether or not a cause of action can properly be founded and sustained against Johnson & Johnson. Nevertheless a careful approach will be required when dealing with any such claims to ensure that the links between the talcum powder and the alleged cancer can be scientifically corroborated.