Articles Posted in Compensation

A jury in St. Louis, Missouri recently awarded a Virginia woman $110.5 million in damages after she alleged that their talcum powder products caused her ovarian cancer. Lois Slemp, a Virginia resident, claimed to have used Johnson & Johnson’s Shower-to-Shower and Baby Powder products over a period of four decades. The damages included $5.4 million in actual damages and $105 million in punitive damages. This follows jury verdicts of $72 million, $55 million, and $70 million  against Johnson & Johnson in 2016.

Does Talcum Powder Cause Cancer?

There is debate in the medical industry as to whether here is a link between talc, the main ingredient in talcum powder, and various forms of cancer. Talc is a mineral that is mined from deposits around the world, which is then crushed into a white powder for use in cosmetics and other personal care products to absorb moisture. It is also used in a variety of other products, including paint and plastics. In its natural form, talc contains asbestos, a substance that is known to cause cancer in and around the lungs when inhaled. However, all talcum products sold for home use in the United States have been asbestos-free since the 1970s. Most of the concerns about a link between talcum powder and cancer have been focused in two areas:

If you are injured in an accident and prevail in a personal injury suit, you will be compensated in the form of monetary damages.The purpose of damages in a personal injury case is to compensate the victim so that they are in the same position they would be in had the accident never occurred. Thus, damage awards are compensatory—the plaintiff receives one the amount that will make him or her whole again.Because compensatory damages are awarded on a sliding scale relative to the plaintiff’s needs, damage awards can reach into the millions of dollars. In order to cut down on damage awards that many view as excessive, many state legislatures have enacted caps on the amount of damages that juries are able to award.

How Damages Caps Work

The main argument behind damage caps is that the United States is an excessively litigious society and that too many view personal injury lawsuits as a get-rich-quick scheme. Damage caps are thus designed to discourage lawsuit-happy litigants from filing frivolous lawsuits and clogging up the court system. The main argument against damage caps is that they unfairly limit the recourse available to injured parties and that judges already have the power to either decrease or increase unreasonable damages awards. The way damages caps work is fairly simple—they are a creature of state statute, wherein the state legislature places what they consider to be a reasonable limit on the amount of money a jury can award. Some states limit damages based on the type of action that is brought in the court—for example, the damages cap may only apply to medical malpractice or wrongful death. Other times they apply to certain categories of damages, most commonly to noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering, and punitive damages.

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