In an update on the Johnson & Johnson talcum powder case, the company has been ordered by a U.S. jury to pay $55 million to Gloria Ristesund. Ristesund developed ovarian cancer after using the company’s talc-powder products for feminine hygiene for decades.
Ristesund’s Johnson and Johnson Case
Ristesund’s case against J&J is just one of the 1,200 lawsuits the company is facing, and the second case it has lost for negligence and not adequately warning its customers that the talc-based products it manufactured for years posed cancer risks for those using it.
J&J has plans to appeal the verdict that was handed down following a three-week trial in Missouri state court. After just a day of deliberation, jurors awarded $5 million in compensatory damages and $50 million in punitive damages to Gloria Ristesund. After using the Baby Powder and Shower to Shower Powder products for decades, Ristesund was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Though her cancer is in remission now, she underwent a hysterectomy and related surgeries to treat the cancer.
This is the second case in which a jury has awarded money for claims that J&J’s products caused cancer. In February the same court awarded $72 million to the family of a woman who passed away from ovarian cancer after years of using the same J&J talc powder.
Though it seems that scientific evidence has shown that real danger is inconclusive, the plaintiffs have argued that J&J was negligent for not warning consumers that the talc had been linked to an increased risk for ovarian cancer. J&J contends that it acted was not acting negligently and had properly developed and marketed the products.
Evidence in Fox Trial
In February, jurors awarded $72 million to Marvin Salter, the son of Jackie Fox, a woman who died of ovarian cancer following years of using J&J talc-products. One of the largest pieces of evidence in that trial was a 1997 internal memo from a Johnson & Johnson medical consultant that suggested a link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer. In that memo, the consultant allegedly expressed that anyone who denied the risk between hygienic talc powder use and ovarian cancer would be “denying the obvious in the face of all evidence to the contrary.”
Meanwhile, two published studies done on the link between ovarian cancer and exposure to talc powder have shown to be inconclusive. A study conducted in 2010 looked at 200,000 women. Within that group, 721 cases of ovarian cancer were reported. That study concluded that there was a possible association with a specific sub-type of ovarian cancer, but went on to emphasize that there were too many variables to make a direct association between the talcum powder and risk of cancer.
A second study that examined data on 11,933 women found any possible link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer could not be determined due to other variables.
Consumer Groups Speak Out
Last October, The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics sent Johnson & Johnson a letter signed by 25 environmental and medical groups, that demanded that the company “commit to removing the chemicals from all of its products by November 15.”
Johnson & Johnson responded, stating:
“We have been phasing out the use of preservatives that release tiny amounts of formaldehyde to guard against bacterial contamination. These preservative technologies, which are used widely in our industry are all safe and approved in the countries where they are sold… Over the past couple of years, we already have reduced the number of formulations globally with these ‘formaldehyde releaser’ preservatives by 33% and in the U.S. by over 60%.
We are completing this reformulation as quickly as we can safely and responsibly do so. As part of the manufacturing process, we have extensive monitoring to ensure that the amount of a trace byproduct known as “1,4 dioxane” in any of our products is well below the level that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and regulatory agencies around the world consider safe."
Jurors found Johnson & Johnson liable for fraud, negligence, and conspiracy and awarded the family $10 million of actual damages and $62 million of punitive damages. According to lawyers, this is the first verdict by a U.S. jury to award damages over the claims, despite the fact that roughly 1,000 similar cases have been filed in Missouri state court, and an additional 200 like claims were filed in New Jersey.
The claims all charge that for decades, in an effort to boost sales of its products, Johnson & Johnson failed to warn its consumers that its talc-based products had been linked to causing cancer.
According to Johnson & Johnson spokeswoman, Carol Goodrich: “We have no higher responsibility than the health and safety of consumers, and we are disappointed with the outcome of the trial. We sympathize with the plaintiff’s family but firmly believe the safety of cosmetic talc is supported by decades of scientific evidence.”
Bringing A Wrongful Death Lawsuit
There are two main kinds of damages that can be sought in personal injury cases: compensatory (also called “actual” and punitive.
Compensatory or Actual Damages
“Compensatory” or “Actual” means something that will compensate for the loss that occurs in a personal injury case. Typically, money is the compensation that a family or person receives. Compensatory damages means you may be eligible to receive money to compensate for:
- Property damage
- Loss of enjoyment of life due to injury (or death of family member)
- Current and future medical bills to treat injuries or sustain life
- Current and future lost wages or lost earning potential due to time spent healing from injuries
- Current and future pain and suffering or emotional distress from injuries or loss of life
Punitive damages are used to punish the at-fault party for negligence or illegal activity that resulted in harm to someone else. The thought behind punitive damages is that if a company or someone has to pay a large sum of money, they might reconsider being involved in such reckless behavior again. The negligent party can also face criminal prosecution.
As with any lawsuit, you’ll want to understand the process. The best way to know how to proceed in a wrongful death lawsuit is to work with a personal injury attorney.
Two Forms of Wrongful Death Claim
In addition to the types of damages you can seek, there are two forms a wrongful death claim can take: negligence, or intention. This means either the victim died as the result of a negligent act of the defendant. Or the victim died as the result of the defendant’s intentions to kill the victim. Some examples of negligence include: victim’s death as a result of medical malpractice or the victim dies as the result of a faulty engine in the car the victim was riding in. And example of intention is when the defendant is believed to have murdered the victim on purpose.
Proving a Wrongful Death Claim
For the defendant to be declared liable in a wrongful death claim, the claim brought must meet the same burden of proof that the victim would have had to meet if the victim was alive. In the case of a negligence trial, plaintiffs must show the defendant owed a duty of care to the victim, that the defendant breached this duty of care, and that the breach of this duty directly caused the death of the victim. In this J&J case, it would seem that the company would owe their consumer a duty of care to the victim, due to the fact that they had been made aware of a potential link to cancer.
Bringing a Wrongful Death Claim
Often the deceased person’s surviving relatives, dependents or beneficiaries bring the wrongful death suit against the responsible party or parties, seeking monetary damages for their loss. Often times the jurisdiction determines the individuals who are able to bring the claim. Generally, the primary beneficiaries (often the spouse and children, or parents of a victim) are able to bring a claim. While in some states parents of the deceased person may be also designated as beneficiaries. But, in most states, if the deceased person did not leave behind a husband or wife, any children or parents, there may be no one who will be able to bring a wrongful death claim.
In order to legally recover damages in a wrongful death action, there are some general requirements that must be met. They are as follows: (1) The death must have been caused by another’s negligence, i.e., it must be showed that the negligent person was at fault for the death; (2) if the deceased was alive, he or she would have been entitled to recover damages from the at fault party; and (3) the party or beneficiaries must meet the legal requirements to be allowed recovery of damages in the Wrongful Death action.
Wrongful death laws vary from state to state
Not every state follows the same guidelines, principles, or rules. And each state has its own set laws regarding wrongful death. A personal injury attorney can help advise you on if your wrongful death claim is valid and can help you are you pursue a claim against the responsible party or parties.
“True” versus “Survival Actions”
Some states have “true” wrongful death acts. This is when the deceased person’s survivors or next of kin are able to bring a cause of action for their damages inflicted as a result of their family member’s death. Other states have acts called “survival actions.” This form of lawsuit is brought by the survivors on behalf of the deceased person. This cause of action is for the deceased person’s pain and suffering that resulted from the injuries that caused his or her death.
In many jurisdictions, when the defendant’s negligence contributes only in part or in tandem with other circumstances to a person’s death, and not just the sole cause, liability may still be attached to the defendant.
<p> The attorneys at Personal Injury Attorneys PLLC have experience handling personal injury cases such as wrongful death, <a href="https://www.personalinjuryattorneys.me/motorcycle-accident-attorney-phoenix/">motorcycle accidents,</a> <a href="https://www.personalinjuryattorneys.me/car-accident-attorney-phoenix/">car accidents</a>, <a href="https://www.personalinjuryattorneys.me/slip-and-fall-attorney-phoenix/">slip and fall accidents</a>, and <a href="https://www.personalinjuryattorneys.me/dog-bite-attorney-phoenix/">dog bites</a>. After contacting an attorney they will investigate the specifics of the personal injury. The more information you can provide to them, the better. That means specifics of the crash, any witness information, any medical bills or time spent in hospital, and the specifics of your injuries. They will build a case for you based on these specifics and then defend you should the case go to trial. You'll want to work with experienced personal injury attorneys like the ones at Personal Injury Attorneys PLLC. </p> </div>