After using Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder daily for 36 years, Nora Daniels was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2013 at the age of 55. Daniels filed a talcum powder lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson and Imerys Talc (the provider of the talcum powder used in Johnson & Johnson products) and alleged that her daily use of baby powder contributed to her diagnosis. Daniels also claimed that Johnson & Johnson and Imerys Talc knew that the talcum powder was carcinogenic and did nothing to warn the public.
Daniels Loses Her Case
Despite the recent trend of Missouri juries awarding women diagnosed with ovarian cancer monetary damages for their decades of use of Johnson & Johnson products, Daniels lost her case. An attorney for Daniels expressed disappointment in the jury’s decision, saying, “We continue to maintain that the association between genital talc usage and ovarian cancer remains an issue of public health and demands that consumers be warned of the specific risks.”
With thousands of federal lawsuits still pending against Johnson & Johnson, Daniels’ lawsuit highlights the need of credible documentation to link a woman’s talcum powder use with her ovarian cancer diagnosis.
The documentation would need to be extremely specific. The main difference between the Daniels case and other cases where verdicts were returned in favor of the plaintiffs – like those of Jacqueline Fox, Gloria Ristesund and Deborah Giannecchini – is that not enough evidence was presented to convince the jury of a direct link between talcum powder and her specific type of ovarian cancer.
J&J Pleased with Daniels’ Verdict
After receiving three large verdicts against Johnson & Johnson in a row that they plan to appeal, they released the following statement: “The jury’s decision is consistent with science, research, clinical evidence and decades of studies by medical experts around the world that continue to support the safety of cosmetic talc.”
Co-defendant Imerys Talc also released a statement: “Imerys sympathizes with women suffering from ovarian cancer and hopes that the scientific community’s efforts will continue to be directed toward finding the true causes of this terrible disease.”
The jury’s decision was 11-1 in favor of Johnson & Johnson. In the majority for Johnson & Johnson, juror Luke Wilson said that he didn’t believe the jury was given enough evidence to link talcum powder with ovarian cancer so that the company would need to use labels on their product to inform the public of the risk.
Dissenting juror George Stair believed that there was enough evidence and continued, “I wish we could have sent a message to Johnson & Johnson to put a warning label on their product.”
Ovarian Cancer Type Important
As previously mentioned, the jury in Daniels’ case found that her specific type of ovarian cancer couldn’t be linked to her decades’ long use of Johnson’s Baby Powder. Ultimately, the Daniels case acts as a defining moment to help everyone know which types of ovarian cancer diagnoses after the use of talcum products should be compensated.
The American Cancer Society has openly stated that studies continue to determine whether the use of talcum powder products by women causes an increase in the likelihood of developing ovarian cancer. Women who are concerned about the possible link should limit their use or avoid use of talc-based products altogether.
Decades of research on ovarian cancer and talcum powder have yielded nothing that determines beyond a reasonable doubt that the use of cosmetic talc is a risk factor of ovarian cancer. However, Dr. Daniel Cramer, a Harvard epidemiologist, completed a study regarding talcum powder and the development of ovarian cancer and his study showed that certain types of ovarian cancer may develop after years of talcum powder use.
Where Do Ovarian Cancer Plaintiffs Go from Here?
With several verdicts in favor of plaintiffs and their families, and now a ruling in favor of Johnson & Johnson, where do ovarian cancer plaintiffs go from here? From previous lawsuits, legal counsel representing plaintiffs and their families were hopeful that Johnson & Johnson would stop their legal defense and settle instead. This particular verdict makes that unlikely since there is now a way for juries to determine which diagnoses of ovarian cancer may be entitled to legal compensation.
Ovarian cancer plaintiffs and their families will continue to move forward with their cases. Women diagnosed with ovarian cancer after using products like Johnson’s Baby Powder or Shower-to-Shower Body Powder may still be eligible for compensation and should contact an attorney for a free case evaluation. It’s important to recognize the part that medical documentation as well as the type of ovarian cancer will play in all cases moving forward.
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