Johnson & Johnson Ordered To Pay Sioux Falls Woman $55 Million

Plaintiff's Lawyer: 'This was about making women worldwide aware of the problem.'

A Sioux Falls woman is making national headlines after a well-known company was ordered by a Missouri jury to pay her $55 million. The woman claims she developed ovarian cancer after years of using Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based baby powder.

This is the second lawsuit Johnson & Johnson has lost in three months. In February, a jury awarded 72 million dollars to the family of an Alabama woman who died from ovarian cancer. The common link: both claim the company’s baby powder containing talc is to blame for giving them cancer.

St. Louis Based Attorney Jim Onder said, “Talcum powder is very much of a family thing, you know, if grandma uses it, mom uses it, daughter uses it and it comes to the point, it’s like most people brushing their teeth. If they don’t use talcum powder they just don’t feel clean in the morning.”

Onder says that’s how his client felt. Gloria Ristesund used Johnson and Johnson’s baby powder for feminine hygiene for nearly four decades until she was diagnosed with stage 1 ovarian cancer in 2011. The 62-year-old, who is currently in remission, claims the talcum powder led to her diagnosis.
    
“A pathologist found talcum powder in her ovaries, confirming her testimony of long-term talc-use,” said Onder.

After a three week trial, a St. Louis jury agreed with Ristesund. They ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay her $5 million for pain and suffering and $50 million in punitive damages.

“The jury basically asked how much is necessary to punish Johnson & Johnson and get their attention and get them to put a warning on the product,” said Onder.

Onder says the company didn’t do so following the first lawsuit and we’ll have to wait to see if they do it now. As for Ristesund, Onder says she is pleased with the verdict and happy she could be a part of giving women a voice.

“This was about making women worldwide aware of the problem and making a difference,” Onder said.

A spokesperson for Johnson & Johnson says the verdict contradicts 30 years of research supporting the safety of cosmetic talc powder. Onder says researchers began linking the powder to ovarian cancer in the 70’s, and the company was aware of those studies.

Johnson & Johnson is planning on appealing the ruling. However, there are more than 1,000 other pending cases against the New-Jersey based company. Onder says they got to choose the first case in February and the company chose this one as the second which makes him believe that they thought this was the weakest one.

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