Thousands of talcum powder lawsuits have been filed against Johnson & Johnson for the sale of it’s popular talc-based Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower products because of the known connection between talcum powder and ovarian cancer.
Why Talcum Powder Lawsuits Are Being Filed
Johnson & Johnson specifically marketed their talcum powder products to women for use in their daily feminine hygiene routines, even though decades of studies have connected talcum powder and ovarian cancer. Evidence has surfaced that the company knew about the link between talc and ovarian cancer, and yet decided not to place any warnings on their Baby Powder or Shower-to-Shower products. This means Johnson and Johnson can be held liable in certain circumstances.
Women who have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and have a history of applying Johnson’s Baby Powder or Shower-to-Shower powder to their genital area may be entitled to compensation for their injuries. Most lawyers that are accepting baby powder lawsuit cases will offer a free legal evaluation to help you determine whether your case is likely to result in a settlement or verdict. Reputable attorneys will only require payment after they help you receive compensation.
The most common reasons that talcum powder lawsuits are filed include:
- Compensation for pain and suffering caused by the development of cancer
- Payment of medical costs for diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up care
- Lost income due to the inability to work
- Funeral expenses for a loved one who has died due to ovarian cancer caused by talc
Talcum Powder and Ovarian Cancer
For decades, women applied talc-based powders to their genitals to absorb odors and excess moisture because they were told it was perfectly safe, even though evidence suggested that it was not.
The first connection between talcum powder and ovarian cancer was discovered over 45 years ago when four obstetricians noted that talc particles were found in more than 75 percent of ovarian tumors that the group investigated. Over the last 10 years, numerous studies have been conducted that support these findings, leading the International Agency for Research on Cancer to declare talc to be a “possible carcinogen” for women. Despite this classification, talcum powder is used in some of the most common beauty and childcare products, including baby powder, deodorant, sanitary pads, diaphragms and condoms.
Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder Lawsuits
The first evidence of a link between talcum powder and cancer surfaced in 1971, but it wasn’t until October 2013 that Diane Berg, a South Dakota woman, brought the first baby powder lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson for its talc-based products.
A federal jury sided with Berg, but no damages were awarded in the verdict. The jury didn’t see enough scientific evidence to prove that Berg’s cancer was caused by her use of talc powder; however, the jury did state that Johnson & Johnson nonetheless should have warned consumers of the risk. Before the verdict, Berg was offered an out-of-court settlement of $1.3 million, which she had turned down.
In 2016, Johnson & Johnson was found liable in three prominent talc lawsuits for failing to warn consumers of the risk that its brand-name baby powder caused ovarian cancer. In each of these cases, the women involved used Johnson’s Baby Powder or Shower-to-Shower Body Powder for years due to the company’s marketing of the product as safe and hygienic.
Because talc has been linked to ovarian cancer, companies that manufacture, distribute, and sell talcum powder-based products can be held liable for the development of ovarian cancer in women who use their products if no warnings are present.
Johnson & Johnson Talc Lawsuit Verdicts
While the ties between talcum powder and ovarian cancer date back to 1971, it wasn’t until October 2013 that Diane Berg won the first of several thousand talcum powder lawsuits brought against Johnson & Johnson. A federal jury sided with Berg, but no damages were awarded due to a lack of scientific evidence proving that Berg’s cancer was caused by her use of talc products. However, the jury did state that Johnson & Johnson should have warned consumers of the “possible risk” anyways, setting J&J up for a round of deep losses in future cases.
In 2016, Johnson & Johnson was found liable in three more talc lawsuits for failing to warn women that it’s talc products might increase the risk of ovarian cancer. The verdicts for each of these lawsuits were:
- Jacqueline Fox – $72 million
- Gloria Ristesund – $55 million
- Deborah Giannecchini – $70 million
Each of these women used Johnson’s Baby Powder or Shower-to-Shower Body Powder for years due to the company’s marketing of the products as safe and hygienic. The deciding factor came when Fox’s attorneys were able to produce internal documents proving that Johnson and Johnson knew of the research connecting talc and ovarian cancer, but chose not to warn consumers.
Talcum Powder Class Actions and Multidistrict Litigation
Class action lawsuits have been filed in both California and Illinois, covering thousands of defendants.
Mona Estrada Talc Class Action Lawsuit (California)
In April 2014, Mona Estrada filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, claiming that she had been buying Johnson’s Baby Powder since 1950. Mona, along with many other woman, had expected the product to be safe based on Johnson & Johnson’s marketing claims. She also claimed that a lack of a warning about the possibility of developing cancer on the label made the company liable for her ovarian cancer, to which talc has been linked.
Mona’s lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson has dragged on for several years, with the company filing multiple motions to dismiss it. In October 2016, the was transferred to a federal court in New Jersey to be part of the multidistrict litigation (MDL No. 2738) currently going through that court.
Barbara Mihalich Class Action Lawsuit (Illinois)
Shortly after the Estrada talc lawsuit, another woman named Barbara Mihalich filed a class action in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. Her case was initially dismissed for failure to state a claim; however, Barbara filed an amended complaint alleging that she and other women faced a greater risk of developing ovarian cancer due to the use of Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based products. The lawsuit cited studies as far back as the 1960s and claimed that the company knew about the potential health risks of their product, but never warned women about these dangers.
In October 2016, Barbara Mihalich’s case was transferred to MDL No. 2738 to be administered by the District of New Jersey federal court, along with those who had signed onto the class action.
Multidistrict Litigation of Talcum Powder Lawsuits
Most, if not all, talcum powder lawsuits are currently being handled as part of a multidistrict litigation (MDL). MDL cases are different from class action lawsuits in that the plaintiffs file individual claims, but they are all handled through the same district court to make the process more efficient. Such MDLs are often set up where there are (or are likely to be) many similar cases that may have some differences in the individual circumstances.
Baby powder lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson are being handled as part of MDL No. 2738, “In Re: Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Products.” The Honorable Freda L. Wolfson and Lois H. Goodman are presiding over the case in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey.