LOUIS – Plaintiffs
attorneys throughout the country, including in Florida,
are working to bring alleged victims of talc to court following two
multimillion-dollar judgments rendered in a St. Louis district court.
Johnson & Johnson says
it will appeal both cases, one which awarded a woman $55 million, the other
which awarded another woman $72 million. The separate cases were brought to trial
after the women claimed to have gotten cancer after long-time use of the
company’s talc products.
“The first appeal has
been filed; the other is in process,” Carol Goodrich, Johnson & Johnson’s
global media relations director, told the Florida Record.
Both women were
represented by the Onder Law Firm, based in suburban St.
Louis, which plans to bring forward another 1,000 talc cases in St. Louis court and is
soliciting other cases through a national advertising campaign.
And they’re not the
In Florida, you need only to look as far as the
attorneygroup.com website to get all of the information an alleged talc victim
would need to start consulting with an attorney.
“When people suffer
from severe side effects from a dangerous or defective product, they may be
entitled to compensation for their injuries and damages,” says the website. “The
types of losses that can be recovered include past and future medical expenses,
lost wages or ability to work and pain and suffering.”
It goes on to say that
if the person dies, family members may be able to recover wrongful death
Goodrich said, while the
company is aware of the other cases and aggressively pursuing the appeals, it
also has intensified its efforts to educate the public about its products
“Everyone at Johnson
& Johnson sympathizes deeply with the women and families who have been affected
by ovarian cancer, a devastating disease with no known cause,” she said.
But she said it’s the
company’s contention that there is no link between ovarian cancer and the use
“Thirty years of
studies by medical experts around the world, science, research and clinical
evidence continues to support the safety of cosmetic talc,” she said.
Even prior to the
company’s legal entanglements, she said, the notion that cosmetic talc is
dangerous has gotten traction in some online circles.
Recent studies showing
an increased cancer risk of talc use, especially among African-American women,
have emboldened critics and produced doubt among some consumers.
She said the company
continues to share research it says supports talc as a safe product.
“We developed a website
years ago to provide consumers and other external audiences with important
information about our company, research and development process and our
products,” she said.
The U.S. Chamber of
Commerce, meanwhile, has been working to change the expert testimony law in Missouri, which it says
sets a low bar for credentials that can be used by aggressive attorneys to sway
a journey and produce an unfair outcome.
“Unfortunately, when it
comes to the standards for scientific studies, data and expert testimony
allowed in a court trial, the Show-Me State is one of the weakest in the nation,”
said Lisa Rickard, the president of the Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform.
She said the expert
witness used in the Johnson & Johnson trials claiming talc’s toxicity would
not have met that standard.
The chamber has been
pushing for the state’s adoption of the Daubert standard, a standard for
professional witnesses established by the U.S. Supreme Court. She said most
states use it to provide a high trial standard for professional witnesses.
“Changing Missouri’s standard of
scientific evidence isn’t just good for civil justice, but wrongful criminal
convictions as well, where innocent people are put in jail based on shoddy
evidence,” she said.
Critics say the law is
used by big-company attorneys who are able to strike witnesses because their
opinions fall outside of the accepted mainstream.
The Missouri legislature recently passed the
bill, though it was later vetoed by Gov. Jay Nixon.