Deane Berg turned down $1.3 million from Johnson & Johnson so she could broadcast her negligence claim against the talcum powder retailer.
The now 58-year-old physician’s assistant from Sioux Falls, S.D., who had dusted her perineum with talcum powder almost every day for the last 30 years, first noted spotting between periods in 2006. Her family practitioner insisted she was fine, but Ms. Berg sought a second opinion from a gynecologist. She was initially diagnosed with a hemorrhagic ovary; doctors removed both ovaries as a precaution. Subsequent tests revealed that Ms. Berg had stage 3 ovarian cancer that had metastasized to her lymph nodes. She had no cancer risk factors, other than talcum powder use.
She filed a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson in South Dakota, a very conservative state, in 2013. Although the jury awarded zero damages, she does not regret her decision to forego signing a confidentiality agreement and the attendant $1.3 million settlement offer, because “my case paved the way for plaintiff lawyers to bring claims for hundreds of women who blame their ovarian cancer on exposure to talcum powder.”
There is a large body of evidence linking talc with ovarian cancer; there is also substantial evidence that Johnson & Johnson knew about the risk, but refused to warn consumers because it feared such a move would deflate sales.
In special-use cases, manufacturers have a duty to ensure that their products are fit for that purpose and free of unreasonably harmful side effects. A defective product lawsuit may be based on:
- Design Defect: Many medical products have dangerous side effects, while some consumer products are made with inferior and unsafe materials. In many jurisdictions, the plaintiff must prove that there was a reasonable alternative design.
- Manufacturing Defect: Particularly in the case of medical devices, slight errors during manufacturing or carelessness during shipping often cause serious injuries later.
- Failure to Warn: Medical drug and device companies are particularly notorious for suppressing negative information about their products so as to not affect sales.
Victims in these cases are entitled to compensation for both their economic and noneconomic damages. Large punitive damage awards are also common in these cases.
Defective products cause serious injuries practically every day. For a free consultation with attorneys who stand up for victims, contact Proner & Proner. Our main office is conveniently located in Manhattan near Grand Central Station.