Posts Tagged ‘jackpot justice’

L.A. jury blames ovarian cancer on baby powder, awards $417 million

Does the naturally occurring mineral talc, found in Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder, cause ovarian cancer? According to the National Cancer Institute last month:

The weight of evidence does not support an association between perineal talc exposure and an increased risk of ovarian cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society:

It has been suggested that talcum powder might cause cancer in the ovaries if the powder particles (applied to the genital area or on sanitary napkins, diaphragms, or condoms) were to travel through the vagina, uterus, and fallopian tubes to the ovary.

Many studies in women have looked at the possible link between talcum powder and cancer of the ovary. Findings have been mixed, with some studies reporting a slightly increased risk and some reporting no increase. Many case-control studies have found a small increase in risk. But these types of studies can be biased because they often rely on a person’s memory of talc use many years earlier. Two prospective cohort studies, which would not have the same type of potential bias, have not found an increased risk.

For any individual woman, if there is an increased risk, the overall increase is likely to very be small. Still, talc is widely used in many products, so it is important to determine if the increased risk is real. Research in this area continues.

On the other hand, some experts believe the risks are higher. Our contemporary American legal way of handling this disagreement is to submit the question in a series of high-stakes trials in venues selected by plaintiff’s lawyers, in which juries will listen to a battle of hired experts. On Aug. 21 a Los Angeles jury told Johnson and Johnson to pay $417,000,000 to Eva Echeverria, a 63-year-old California woman who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007. [ Margaret Cronin Fisk and Edvard Pettersson/Bloomberg, ABA Journal, Amanda Bronstad/NLJ, Alison Kodjak/NPR, Eric Lieberman/Daily Caller]

“Woman Stuck by Needle in Target Parking Lot Awarded $4.6M”

Mrs. Garrison’s suit, in Anderson County, S.C., says she was in a Target store parking lot “when her daughter picked up a hypodermic needle. Garrison swatted it out of her hand and was stuck in her own palm. Garrison was bedridden because of medication prescribed because of the potential risk of HIV.” A jury awarded $4.6 million. [Insurance Journal]

March 9 roundup

  • Jury tells Marriott to pay $55 million after stalker takes nude video of TV personality from adjoining hotel room [Business Insider]
  • R.I.P. John Sullivan, long-time advocate for lawsuit reform in California [Sacramento Bee]
  • Colleges, speed cameras, and surveillance on buses in my latest Maryland policy roundup; paid leave, publicly financed conference centers and criminalizing drinking hosts in the one before that;
  • AAJ, the trial lawyers lobby, “panned companies’ method of fighting class actions as unfair after member accused it of using the same strategy” [John O’Brien, Chamber-backed Legal NewsLine]
  • In the 1920s, battling chain stores was part of the mission of the Ku Klux Klan [Atlas Obscura]
  • Class-action lawyer Goodson, “husband of Supreme Court justice, recommended 2 firms that got state auditor contract” [Arkansas Democrat-Gazette]
  • “Indian court issues summons to Hindu monkey god Hanuman” Again? [Lowering the Bar]

Great moments in foreseeable misuse

Cybex International, a manufacturer of exercise equipment, has agreed to pay $19.5 million to a Buffalo-area woman “who was injured by a piece of Cybex equipment when she improperly used a leg machine to stretch her shoulder.” A jury had awarded $66 million and a New York appellate court upheld the verdict, while reducing the sum to $44 million. [Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York; Lintoid/Seeking Alpha and more; Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association]

“Mississippi Court Reverses $322 Million Asbestos Verdict”

“A Mississippi court has reversed a $322 million asbestos verdict against Union Carbide — believed to be the largest in U.S. history — after the judge failed to disclose his own father had pending asbestos litigation against the same company. … The jury ruled for Brown even though nine treating physicians, an independent medical examiner and an X-ray technician all testified that the plaintiff had no symptoms of asbestos-related disease.” [Daniel Fisher, Forbes; earlier here, here and here]

July 14 roundup

  • “Battle of the tort reform flicks”: trial-bar-backed “Hot Coffee” documentary said to be more entertaining than U.S. Chamber-backed “InJustice” [TortsProf, Abnormal Use, Daily Caller, Frank/PoL, Above the Law, Fisher, LNL] Memo to liberal studio heads: c’mon, now’s the time to greenlight more business-bashing flicks [Alyssa Rosenberg, TP]
  • Interlock makers join forces with MADD to lobby for new federal DUI mandates [Luke Rosiak, Wash Times] More: Greenfield.
  • Consumer found liable after posting gripes about driveway contractor on Craigslist [Minneapolis Star-Tribune] P.S.: Default judgment, not merits [h/t ABA Journal]
  • Angelos law firm obtains $1 billion+ punitive award in Exxon Baltimore gasoline leak case, bringing total to $1.5 billion+ [AP, earlier]
  • Taiwan: “Jail Time (And $7000 Fine) for Saying a Restaurant’s Dishes Were ‘Too Salty'” [Volokh]
  • Headed for SCOTUS? Sixth Circuit panel strikes down Michigan law banning discrimination in higher ed admissions and other state activities [Gail Heriot, Daily Caller; Hans Bader, CEI]
  • Court in British Columbia includes C$30,000 in damage award for injury plaintiff’s purchase of medical marijuana for pain management [Erik Magraken]

Judge’s impartiality questioned in $322 million Mississippi jury verdict

“In a motion filed Tuesday, attorneys for Union Carbide said Circuit Judge Eddie H. Bowen neglected to notify defense lawyers that his parents had been involved in similar asbestos litigation and had settled a case against Union Carbide.” A rural Mississippi jury earlier this month returned the largest asbestos verdict in American history, $322 million, against Union Carbide and other defendants. [AP/Stamford Advocate; Jackson Clarion-Ledger] More problems with verdict: Point of Law.

$9M alienation of affection award in NC

The defendant wasn’t at trial and didn’t have a lawyer, and plans to appeal; the judgment might as well be for $73 gazillion, as the ex-husband is already in contempt of court for failure to pay spousal support. (Greensboro News-Record March 18 and March 17 via Volokh). We’ve been covering the issue for years, as a click on the tags will reveal.