California woman awarded $70 million in Johnson & Johnson baby powder lawsuit

By Daniel Uria  |  Updated Oct. 29, 2016 at 4:21 PM
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MODESTO, Calif., Oct. 29 (UPI) -- A woman in California was awarded $70 million in a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson claiming the company's baby powder caused her ovarian cancer.

Deborah Giannecchini, 63, said she had used Johnson & Johnson for feminine hygiene for 45 years before she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Giannecchini alleged the talc in the powder was responsible for her cancer and accused Johnson & Johnson of negligence for not providing a warning on the product's label.

"It's been a long-fought battle," she told NBC News after the trial in St. Louis. "I was just elated, so relieved it was over. I felt like I accomplished something. There were happy tears and just joy."

Two other jury trials in St. Louis awarded plaintiffs similar sums of $72 million and $55 million, while two cases were thrown out in Johnson & Johnson's home state of New Jersey where a judge determined there was not enough reliable evidence to link talc to ovarian cancer.

Giannecchini began her lawsuit in 2012 when her daughter saw an ad offering legal representation for people with ovarian cancer who had used talcum powder.

In addition to the monetary compensation she received, Giannecchini said she hoped Johnson & Johnson would more clearly present the risks associated with using talcum powder.

"I hope that Johnson & Johnson will step up and take responsibility and post a warning on their product that says this is not as safe as you may think it is and think about it before you decide to use this product," she said.

Johnson & Johnson plans to appeal the verdict, claiming science shows the product is safe for use.

"We deeply sympathize with the women and families impacted by ovarian cancer," the company said in a statement. "We will appeal today's verdict because we are guided by the science, which supports the safety of Johnson's Baby Powder."

The spokesperson added evidence also does not support the addition of a warning label to the product.

"In fact, in 2014, the Food and Drug Administration concluded in a response to a Citizen's Petition that such warning labels were not warranted on cosmetic talc products and no regulatory agency has ever required labeling to reflect a risk of ovarian cancer associated with talcum powder products," the company said.

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