The Miami trial of the first lawsuit in three years linking Johnson & Johnson’s talcum baby powder to ovarian cancer ended in a mistrial on Tuesday when the jury failed to come to an agreement. This latest outcome comes amid ongoing legal battles surrounding the safety of one of the company’s most iconic products.

Bob Sugarman was suing Johnson & Johnson on behalf of his late wife, Marilyn Seskin, who died in 2019 from ovarian cancer. He sought $14 million in compensatory damages as well as punitive damages, according to trial coverage by

The trial started on Feb. 13 and jurors began deliberations on March 1, after hearing days of testimony in the talcum powder lawsuit. In closing arguments, Sugarman’s attorney asked jurors to make the amount in punitive damages “meaningful.”

“It was reckless, but they did everything they did intentionally, and it was a diabolical level of intentionality,” Sugarman’s lawyer, Lance Oliver, said, according to “If you punish them with $1 million, that doesn’t matter to them. That’s a rounding error. You have to pick an amount of money that will get their attention.”

Lawyers for Johnson & Johnson argued that it “doesn’t make sense” that people the world over used their talcum products, but only 19,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with ovarian cancer annually.

“This is an extraordinarily rare disease,” Allison Brown said, according to, adding that Seskin had other risk factors including her age.

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Victim Donates Millions to Gynecological Research

During the last years of her life Seskin, a retired anesthesiologist, sought out treatment from the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

“Dr. Seskin’s dying wish was that no woman should ever have to suffer the way she did,” according to a feature story in the school’s magazine about Seskin’s $1.2 million donation to the school upon her death. The money is to be used for research in eradicating gynecologic cancers.

“Marilyn tried to use her medical training to find the source of her illness,” Sugarman told the University of Miami Medicine magazine that profiled his wife. “She believed there was an answer to every question, and there was a source of every illness. You just had to do the research, from basic science and up, to find the answers.”

She died just shy of her 70th birthday.

Talc Trials Halted Amid Bankruptcy Filings

Since 2021, Johnson & Johnson has paused talc trials while trying various bankruptcy techniques, including attempting to shift all liability to its subsidiary LTL Management and then filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

A federal bankruptcy judge twice denied the company’s efforts at the “Texas two-step” bankruptcy maneuver, stating that the parent company, Johnson & Johnson, wasn’t in financial peril, therefore neither was LTL.

Johnson & Johnson is facing nearly 54,000 pending talcum powder lawsuits in multidistrict litigation in New Jersey from people who claim the company’s talc products caused their cancers.

Most of the lawsuits are from women who claim they developed ovarian cancer. Some plaintiffs claim they developed mesothelioma, a rare type of cancer caused by asbestos.

The company offered about $9 billion to settle the cases, but that offer was snuffed when the second bankruptcy attempt was denied.

Many plaintiffs claim the company knew for decades that its talcum powder products contained asbestos, posing a cancer risk, and did nothing to warn consumers of the dangers nor correct the issue.

In January 2024, Johnson & Johnson tentatively agreed to a $700 million settlement with more than 40 states regarding its marketing practices for talcum powder.