By Maria Yagoda
Updated February 24, 2016 12:05 PM
Credit: RunPhoto/Getty Images

A Missouri state jury ordered pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson to pay $72 million in damages to the family of a woman whose death from ovarian cancer was linked to her decades-long usage of Baby Powder and Shower to Shower, both talc-based.

Jurors in the circuit court of St. Louis announced the decision late Monday night, awarding Jacqueline Fox’s family $10 million in damages and $62 million in punitive damages, Reuters reports.

This is the first time a U.S. jury awarded damages over claims that talcum powder is linked to ovarian cancer. Johnson & Johnson is faced with hundreds of lawsuits alleging that the company has failed to inform consumers of the dangers of their products.

Fox claimed to have used Baby Powder and Shower to Shower for over 35 years before her ovarian cancer diagnosis three years ago. Fox’s lawyer, Jere Beasley, told journalists in a conference call that the company “knew as far back as the 1980’s of the risk.”

Johnson & Johnson spokesperson Carol Goodrich defended the safety of cosmetic talc in a statement.

“We have no higher responsibility than the health and safety of consumers, and we are disappointed with the outcome of the trial,” she said. “We sympathize with the plaintiff’s family but firmly believe the safety of cosmetic talc is supported by decades of scientific evidence.”

Nora Freeman Engstrom, a Stanford University law professor not involved in the case, suspects that the massive $72 million award will be reduced.

“Big jury verdicts do tend to be reined in during the course of the appellate process, and I expect that to be the case here,” she told the Associated Press. “This case was clearly a bellwether, and clearly the jury has seen the evidence and found it compelling.”