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A jury has awarded $110 million in another talcum powder-cancer case, a further indictment against Johnson & Johnson and an endorsement for lawyer advertising.
Attorneys rarely get public approval for their ads, especially when it comes to late-night solicitations, but this time it is paying off in more than dollars. The latest nine-figure award is only one of many cases -- about 2,000 nationwide -- that have made the public aware of the dangers of using talcum powder.
Louis Slemp, a Virginia woman who was diagnosed in 2012 with ovarian cancer that spread to her liver, could not attend the trial because of her illness. In a deposition testimony played to the jury, she said she used the talcum products for more than 40 years.
"I trusted Johnson & Johnson," she said. "Big mistake."
Informed by phone of the jury's verdict, Slemp said she hoped it would "send a message." Johnson & Johnson said it would appeal.
The company has also appealed three other verdicts -- totaling $197 million -- that juries meted out in St. Louis, Missouri. The city has become a key battleground for the company, where lawyers have increased advertising for potential cases.
Last year, Johnson & Johnson filed a motion to remove a case from St. Louis. The company claimed it could not get a fair trial because of the ads.
Saiontz & Kirk, a Boston law firm, targets talcum powder lawsuits in its advertising. On its website, it says that Johnson & Johnson's products "increase the risk of women developing ovarian cancer. When the powder is applied for feminine hygiene purposes, research suggests that the talc may migrate into the fallopian tubes, uterus and ovaries."
Last year, a jury awarded $100 million -- including $87 in punitive damages -- against Johnson & Johnson to the estate of a woman who died of ovarian cancer. In her deposition testimony, she said she used talcum products for 35 years.
The company claimed that research showed its products were safe, and that the link to cancer was not certain. However, jurors said after the verdict that the company should have warned people.
"They could have at least put a warning label on the box but they didn't," Jerome Kendrick told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "They did nothing."
In the meantime, lawyers have done that through their advertising.
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