Deborah Giannecchini, a former hospital secretary from Modesto, California, used baby powder as a teenager in 1967 until she was diagnosed with Stage-4 ovarian cancer in 2012. In 2014, she filed a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson for failing to warn about the risk.
The one-month trial began on September 26 and ended late last night. After three hours of deliberations, jurors awarded $2.75 million for her medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other economic and non-economic damages.
Jurors also said Johnson & Johnson should pay $65 million in punitive damages. The company’s talc supplier, Imerys Talc America Inc., was ordered to pay $2.5 million. Defense lawyers immediately announced plans to appeal.
Imerys began warning that its talc was a possible carcinogen in 2006. Those warnings were not included on the label for any talc products sold by Johnson & Johnson.
Lawyers say Johnson & Johnson has been urged since at least 1982 to use warning labels. In one internal memo from 1992, the company acknowledged concerns about cancer, but recommended increasing marketing efforts toward black and Hispanic women.
St. Louis Circuit Court has cemented its reputation for fast trials and big jury awards this year. In February, the family of a woman who died of ovarian cancer was awarded $72 million. Three months later, another jury awarded $55 million to a cancer survivor from South Dakota.
The lawsuit was filed in the 22nd Judicial Circuit Court of the State of Missouri — In Re: Giannecchini v. Johnson & Johnson et al. — Case No. 1422-CC09012-01.