What We Can Learn from the Johnson & Johnson Case
Those who buy products should always be able to have a free conversation with the companies from whom they buy. If we know about the product, we can make informed decisions. Johnson & Johnson is one of those companies who should be having better conversations with their consumers. They recently lost yet another lawsuit because their talcum-based products have a link to ovarian cancer. It should be common practice that a company change their goods and/or at least release a warning, especially if they face lawsuits over and over again.
According to an article on Fortune.com, the massive company will be forced to pay fines of $417 million after a woman was diagnosed with ovarian cancer that she claimed was caused by the corporate giant’s baby powder. Clearly, the Los Angeles Superior Court believed Eva Echeverria’s story and decided in her favor. To date, this has been one of the largest lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson for improperly labeling their products and not warning consumers. Echeverria was represented by Mark Robinson, who said he as “grateful for the jury’s verdict on this matter and that Eva Echeverria was able to have her day in court.” The $417 million would be divided into two parts: $70 million would be compensatory, and $347 million would be punitive. This total number of damages set back Johnson & Johnson, who had already lost over $300 million in the 4,800 other claims made for similar issues. Despite these verdicts, Johnson & Johnson continue to defend their products, believing that their company scientists were truthful and unbiased when testing the safety of their products. However, after a lifetime of using their products, Echeverria firmly believes her cancer can be linked to Johnson & Johnson. Her attorney argues that the company is consciously vindictive, as they actively encourage women to use their products despite the link to ovarian cancer specifically. Johnson & Johnson have lost many verdicts, but this has been the largest, their previous $110 million fine falling second.
Missouri residents have faced a potential block to filing against the pharmaceutical company due to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that limited where personal injury lawsuits could be filed. This case stated that courts could not take on cases if the injuries were caused by companies that did not reside in their state of municipal power. The St. Louis judge that originally had the case declared a mistrial but did allow plaintiffs the argument that the company was based in Missouri partly, due to a bottler the company used in the state.
Johnson & Johnson needs to be held accountable and be forced to recognize that their products are causing harm among a targeted community since so much of Johnson & Johnson’s consumer base is comprised of women who are directly threatened by the product. This recognition should lead to action to reveal the risks of the product and hopefully lawsuits as big as this one will make more consumers aware of the dangers. This danger is particularly heinous considering how Johnson & Johnson advertises themselves. They should be held accountable within the full power of the law.