The Cook Group Legal Litigation Attorneys

Johnson & Johnson secures defense verdict in trial involving claims that Johnson & Johnson baby powder caused Florida woman’s cancer.

On Thursday April 18, a Sarasota County, Florida jury ruled in favor of defendant Johnson & Johnson (“J&J”) concluding that J&J was not liable for claims by the estate of a Florida woman, who died in 2019, that J&J’s talc-containing baby powder caused the woman’s ultimately fatal ovarian cancer.

Family members of Patricia Matthey filed the lawsuit alleging that her 2016 diagnosis of ovarian cancer was caused from her daily use of J&J baby powder from 1965 until August 2016.  The Matthey family alleged that J&J knew for decades that the talc it used in baby powder could be contaminated with carcinogenic asbestos fibers. They further alleged that J&J suppressed scientific evidence linking talc products to an increased risk of cancer.

At her deposition, Matthey testified that advertisements for baby powder made her think that she was "dirty and smelly" and that she "needed Johnson's baby powder to be a good clean person," according to evidence presented by her family's attorney during the trial.

J&J argued, and put on evidence, that there was no "conspiracy" to suppress research. Instead, J&J posited that the scientific evidence simply did not support the Matthey family's claims that its talc products caused cancer.  "This is fundamentally a case about science," J&J's attorneys said during opening statements in the trial.

J&J faces more than 50,000 lawsuits over talc, most involving women with ovarian cancer, with a minority of the cases involving people with mesothelioma. Asbestos exposure is a known cause of mesothelioma. J&J has attempted to reach a global settlement of the talc litigation through bankruptcy, but courts have rejected its two previous attempts.

After Thursday’s defense verdict, J&J's Worldwide Vice President of Litigation Erik Haas said the company was vindicated by the jury's decision and J&J will "continue to defend the meritless talc claims in the tort system," while those negotiations continue.

J&J's bankruptcy strategy put the talc litigation on hold from 2021 to 2023, but trials have resumed after the latest bankruptcy case was dismissed. Recently, the first ovarian cancer trial in three years over J&J’s talcum powder took place in Miami-Dade County and ended in a mistrial on March 4, as the jury said it could not agree on a verdict. The lawsuit was brought by Bob Sugarman on behalf of his deceased wife, Marilyn Seskin, an anesthesiologist who died in 2019 from ovarian cancer, who claimed that J&J’s talc-based baby powder led his wife to develop ovarian cancer and die from the disease. Sugarman’s lawyers asked jurors in closing arguments for $14,000,000 in compensatory damages. The trial was the first against J&J since a bankruptcy judge dismissed subsidiary LTL Management’s second Chapter 11 case last year.

Trials in the talc cases have had a mixed record, with major plaintiffs’ wins including a $2,100,000,000 judgment in 2021 awarded to twenty-two women with ovarian cancer.

Hanson Horn is a trial attorney with The Cook Group and Managing Partner of the firm’s Fort Lauderdale office where his practice focuses on product liability, toxic tort, environmental claims, and property and casualty defense litigation. He contributes significantly to the firm’s New York practice and is also licensed in Louisiana and Mississippi. For more information on recent developments and navigating the toxic tort and environmental litigation landscape, please email Hanson Horn at