At just more than one week into the third baby powder cancer trial, jurors are likely settling in to what will be a highly contested fight between plaintiff Deborah Giannecchini and the healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J). Ms. Giannecchini alleged J&J failed to warn her that long-term use of the company’s baby powder products around her groin could cause her to develop ovarian cancer.
Ms. Giannecchini used the company’s products for most of her adult life for feminine hygiene until she was diagnosed with Stage 4 ovarian cancer. Unfortunately for Ms. Giannecchini, her ovarian cancer spread to other parts of her body, requiring the removal of her spleen, ovaries, uterus, and parts of her stomach and colon. Despite her exhaustive treatment, ovarian cancer drastically reduced Ms. Giannecchini’s life expectancy. Ms. Giannecchini has stated she would not have used baby powder had she known about the cancer risks.
While J&J continues to defend the safety of talc during the trial, an expert witness for Ms. Giannecchini informed the jury early last week that the company should have started warning consumers of potential side effects as far back as 1982.
J&J disputes the expert witness’s testimony and has tried to poke holes in his credibility. Whether or not lawyers for J&J successfully destroyed the witness’s credibility is yet to be determined, but if the company’s track record is any indication, it isn’t looking good.
The very first talcum powder cancer trial began in 2013, and that jury found J&J guilty of gross negligence in failing to warn consumers of the risks associated with the use of baby powder. This case laid the groundwork for cases currently pending in the multidistrict litigation in St. Louis. Ms. Giannecchini’s lawsuit is the third in the MDL to go trial. The first two trials were in February and May of this year, and both resulted in multimillion-dollar verdicts for the plaintiffs.