California judge tosses $417 million talc cancer verdict against Johnson & Johnson

(Reuters) - A California judge on Friday threw out a $417 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson in a lawsuit by a woman who claimed she developed ovarian cancer after using its talc-based products like Johnson's Baby Powder for feminine hygiene.

The ruling by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Maren Nelson marked the latest setback facing women and family members who accuse J&J of not adequately warning consumers about the cancer risks of its talc-based products.

The decision followed a jury's decision in August to hit J&J with the largest verdict to date in the litigation, awarding California resident Eva Echeverria $70 million in compensatory damages and $347 million in punitive damages.

RELATED: Johnson & Johnson brand products

15 PHOTOS
Johnson & Johnson brand products
See Gallery
Johnson & Johnson brand products

Johnson's baby wash is arranged for a photograph in Tiskilwa, Illinois, U.S., on Thursday, July 2, 2015. Johnson & Johnson is expected to report quarterly earnings on July 14, 2015.

Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Johnson & Johnson Band-Aid brand bandages sit on display in a supermarket in Princeton, Illinois, U.S., on Friday, Oct. 12, 2012. Johnson & Johnson is scheduled to release earnings data on Oct. 16.

Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Johnson & Johnson (J&J) Listerine brand freshburst mouthwash bottles move through the production line on a conveyor at the J&J consumer healthcare products plant in Lititz, Pennsylvania, U.S., on Wednesday, June 18, 2014. Johnson & Johnson, the world's biggest health-care products company, beat expectations in its first-quarter earnings release in April and raised its 2014 forecast by focusing on new drugs and reducing its reliance on medical devices. J&J is expected to release second-quarter earnings figures on July 15.

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Johnson's baby shampoo is arranged for a photograph in Tiskilwa, Illinois, U.S., on Thursday, July 2, 2015. Johnson & Johnson is expected to report quarterly earnings on July 14, 2015.

Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Bottles of Johnson's baby powder, produced by Johnson & Johnson, sit on display at a Tesco supermarket in London, U.K., on Tuesday, April 19, 2011. Johnson & Johnson, reeling from more than 50 drug and device recalls since the start of 2010, is trying to recapture its younger self by digesting Synthes Inc.

Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Johnson & Johnson Neosporin brand ointment sits on display in a supermarket in Princeton, Illinois, U.S., on Friday, Oct. 12, 2012. Johnson & Johnson is scheduled to release earnings data on Oct. 16.

Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Bottles of Johnson's baby conditioner, produced by Johnson & Johnson, sit on display at a Tesco supermarket in London, U.K., on Tuesday, April 19, 2011. Johnson & Johnson, reeling from more than 50 drug and device recalls since the start of 2010, is trying to recapture its younger self by digesting Synthes Inc.

Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Johnson & Johnson (J&J) Johnson's brand baby oil bottles move through the production line at the J&J consumer healthcare products plant in Lititz, Pennsylvania, U.S., on Wednesday, June 18, 2014. Johnson & Johnson, the world's biggest health-care products company, beat expectations in its first-quarter earnings release in April and raised its 2014 forecast by focusing on new drugs and reducing its reliance on medical devices. J&J is expected to release second-quarter earnings figures on July 15.

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Johnson & Johnson Band-Aid brand bandages sit on display in a supermarket in Princeton, Illinois, U.S., on Friday, Oct. 12, 2012. Johnson & Johnson is scheduled to release earnings data on Oct. 16.

Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 11: Johnson & Johnson, infants? nonprescription cough and cold products are displayed on a shelf at a pharmacy October 11, 2007 in the Brooklyn borough, of New York City. The Consumer Healthcare Products Association announced Thursday that Johnson & Johnson, Wyeth and other manufactures of infants? nonprescription cough and cold products are recalling some medicines in the United States because of the potential danger of overdose.

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Johnson & Johnson Neutrogena brand facial soap is arranged for a photograph in Tiskilwa, Illinois, U.S., on Thursday, July 2, 2015. Johnson & Johnson is expected to report quarterly earnings on July 14, 2015.

Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Johnson & Johnson (J&J) Listerine brand freshburst mouthwash bottles move through the production line on a conveyor at the J&J consumer healthcare products plant in Lititz, Pennsylvania, U.S., on Wednesday, June 18, 2014. Johnson & Johnson, the world's biggest health-care products company, beat expectations in its first-quarter earnings release in April and raised its 2014 forecast by focusing on new drugs and reducing its reliance on medical devices. J&J is expected to release second-quarter earnings figures on July 15.

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Johnson & Johnson Band-Aid brand bandages sit on display in a supermarket in Princeton, Illinois, U.S., on Friday, Oct. 12, 2012. Johnson & Johnson is scheduled to release earnings data on Oct. 16.

Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

UNITED STATES - JANUARY 23: Johnson & Johnson baby oil is arranged on the shelf for an illustration at Skenderian Apothecary in Cambridge, Massachusetts on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2007. Johnson & Johnson, the world's biggest health-care products company, said profit rose 3.5 percent, led by sales of the Risperdal schizophrenia drug. The shares fell as revenue overall missed analyst expectations.

(Photo by Jb Reed/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Nelson on Friday reversed the jury verdict and granted J&J's request for a new trial. Nelson said the August trial was underpinned by errors and insufficient evidence on both sides, culminating in excessive damages.

Mark Robinson, who represented the woman in her lawsuit, in a statement said he would file an appeal immediately.

"We will continue to fight on behalf of all women who have been impacted by this dangerous product," he said.

J&J in a statement said it was pleased with the verdict, adding that it will continue to defend itself in additional trials.

The judge added that there also had been misconduct of the jury during the trial.

J&J said declarations by two jurors after the trial showed that three members of the 12-person jury who voted against finding the company liable were improperly excluded from determining damages.

J&J says it faces lawsuits by 4,800 plaintiffs nationally asserting talc-related claims. Many of those cases are in California, where Echeverria's case was the first to go to trial, and in Missouri, where J&J has faced five trials.

The Missouri litigation led to four verdicts against J&J in which juries issued verdicts totaling $307 million. The company has only won one trial.

RELATED: Common foods suspected of causing cancer

17 PHOTOS
Common foods suspected of causing cancer
See Gallery
Common foods suspected of causing cancer

Microwave popcorn

(Photo via Getty)

Soda

(Photo via Getty)

Non-organic fruit

(Photo via Shutterstock)

Processed meats

(Photo via Shutterstock)

Alcohol

(Photo via Shutterstock)

Farmed salmon

(Photo via Getty)

Refined sugars

(Photo via Getty)

Canned tomatoes 

(Photo via Getty)

Potato chips

(Photo via Getty)

Hydrogenated oils

(Photo via Getty)

Artificial sweeteners

(Photo via Getty)

Foods that are highly salted, pickled, or smoked

(Photo via Shutterstock)

Red meat

(Photo via Getty)

Highly processed white flours

(Photo via Shutterstock)

"Diet" or "Low Fat" anything

(Photo by Nancy Stone/Chicago Tribune/MCT via Getty Images)

Genetically modified organisms (GMO's)

(Photo via Shutterstock)

HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

But the Missouri cases, which have largely been brought by out-of-state plaintiffs, have faced jurisdictional questions after the Supreme Court issued a ruling in June that limited where personal injury lawsuits could be filed.

On Tuesday, a Missouri appellate court threw out a $72 million verdict by a jury in February 2016 to the family of a deceased Alabama woman after ruling the case should not have been tried in St. Louis.

 

(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston and Tina Bellon in New York; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.