The recent $72 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) for the alleged links between his talc-based powder and ovarian cancer does not mean a win for the others 1,200 similar cases pending.

The thousands of cases, which are mainly in Missouri and New Jersey, have their similarities but many facts from each one are different. They will have to convince different juries whether in fact the well-known product was the main cause of the plaintiff’s cancer.

Johnson & Johnson
Case linking ovarian cancer to baby powder costs Johnson & Johnson $72m. Credit: New York Times

Even in cases with similar evidence and expert testimonies, the jury can reach a different conclusion than the jury which granted the $72 million to the family of an Alabama woman who died from ovarian cancer.

There was an attention-grabbing case that resulted in a positive verdict for the plaintiffs in Missouri, but there was also another one in that did not end so positively.

While the survivors of Jacqueline Fox were awarded the incredible high amount by a St. Louis jury on Monday, jurors in a federal court action in South Dakota reached a different verdict in 2013. They found that J&J had been negligent, but they declined to award damages to plaintiff Deane Berg, as reported by Reuters.

Both cases had alleged that their ovarian cancer was caused by their decades-long use of the J&J’s talc-powder products for feminine hygiene. They also presented scientific evidence to back their claim.

One significant difference was that unlike Fox, who passed away several month before the trial had even started, Berg had the luck of being in remission at the time of the trial, according to court documents.

Besides that fact, others differences from the courts to the juries could have vary from the cases. Some stated courts have been considered more plaintiff-friendly than federal courts, where Berg presented her case. Federal courts have also strict rules for the admission of evidence and expert testimony, said lawyers involved in the litigation.

Talc cases are not the biggest concern

For J&J, the thousands of talc cases may not be their biggest concern as the company is facing many other lawsuits over its larger set of products.

The most worrier cases for its legal team are the ones related to the pelvic mesh devices made by Ethicon unit. There are more than 44,000 claims from women who say they were harmed by their product and are presenting their case to court.

Besides that, there are 8,000 more cases against J&J’s DePuy subsidiary regarding Pinnacle metal-on-metal hip system. Although thousands of this cases have been settled, the poorly designed hips are still being the subject of new lawsuits.

Source: Reuters