J&J Baby Powder Suit: a $70M Payout

Deborah Giannecchini said she had 'no idea' of dangers before her ovarian cancer
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 28, 2016 8:11 AM CDT
J&J to Cough Up $70M in Baby Powder Lawsuit
Shown here: a bottle of Johnson's baby powder.   (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

For more than 40 years, Deborah Giannecchini used Johnson & Johnson baby powder and other talcum powder products—and on Thursday, a St. Louis jury awarded more than $70 million in damages on her claim, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. The 63-year-old Californian said those J&J products contributed to her developing ovarian cancer. The jury voted against J&J 10-2—one of the dissenters actually didn't think the award was enough—with an award of $575,000 in medical damages, $2 million in compensatory damages, $2.5 million in compensatory damages against Imerys Talc (the producer of the talcum powder), and $65 million in punitive damages against J&J. About half of the punitive damages will go to the Missouri Crime Victims' Compensation Program, per Jim Onder of Onder Law, which has handled all three cases with awarded damages so far.

Memos from inside J&J show the company knew for decades about research tying the use of talc powder to ovarian cancer, Onder says—though CNBC says "much" of that research has been "weak." Giannecchini, however, had no clue of possible risks. "There isn't a way to describe how you feel ... when you're told you probably won't make it beyond the next year," she says of receiving her stage 4 cancer diagnosis in 2012. Per her lawyers, Giannecchini has about an 80% chance of dying within the next two years, Bloomberg reports. Not that Onder expects J&J to cede to the nearly 2,000 state and federal complaints against it; instead, he believes the company will take a "scorched-earth legal policy" and not settle "until they absolutely have to." In a statement, a J&J rep says the company will appeal because it's "guided by the science, which supports the safety of Johnson's Baby Powder." (More lawsuit stories.)

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