Talcum Powder Lawsuit Update

Over 5,500 women have filed lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson alleging the brand’s talcum powders caused their ovarian cancer. In the most recent court rulings, two previous talcum powder awards of $72 million and $417 million were overturned.

Both appeals made by J&J were based on the proceedings of the trial, and not whether talc causes ovarian cancer. Neither of these decisions is the last word on the issue, as they come from just one step in the legal system, and there are still other levels of appeals that may still be open to the plaintiffs – all the way up to and potentially including the Supreme Court.

Why Are Talc Lawsuits Being Filed?

Thanks to the consumer bill of rights, Americans are guaranteed the right to safe products. While most brands do their best to ensure the safety of their customers, products can still end up posing a health risk, resulting in a recall. Usually this process is voluntary, but occasionally brands deny that their products cause harm, and in these cases it may be necessary to file a claim. The most common reasons to file a lawsuit 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

Why is Johnson & Johnson liable?

For decades Johnson & Johnson told women that their products were safe for daily use, even though study after study suggested they were not. Evidence has now surfaced that J&J knew about these talcum powder cancer studies, yet decided not to place any warnings on their products.

Johnson & Johnson knew about the link between talc and ovarian cancer.

Internal documents, 1992

Scientific studies have repeatedly shown a link between talc and ovarian tumors as far back as 1971. Because J&J knew about the research connecting talcum powder with a higher risk of cancer, and chose not to include warning labels on their products while other brands did, they may be held liable for negligence. If you have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer after using talc products, contact us now to speak with a lawyer about your legal rights to compensation.

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Talcum Powder Lawsuit Verdicts

Since 2013, there have been 7 high-profile trials deciding if talc causes ovarian cancer. So far, 6 verdicts have come from Missouri courts, while the largest arose from a California court on August 21. Six of the seven verdicts have gone in favor of the plaintiffs, with five resulting in awards totaling over $724 million. Thousands of suits are still awaiting trials.

Timeline of verdicts

Eva Echeverria — $417 million — August 21, 2017 — The long-awaited decision from California is the largest single talc verdict to date, more than doubling the amount J&J has been asked to pay out.

Lois Slemp – $110 million – May 4, 2017 – The largest verdict out of Missouri was awarded to Slemp just two months after Johnson & Johnson won it’s first trial, marking the fifth guilty verdict against the company.

Nora Daniels – Johnson & Johnson victory – March 3, 2017 – Johnson & Johnson won the suit brought by Daniels by arguing that the FDA and other government organizations do not require a warning on talcum powder.

Deborah Giannecchini – $70 million – October 27, 2016  – After using Johnson’s baby powder for feminine hygiene for more than four decades, Giannecchini was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She was awarded $70 million dollars after a court in St. Louis found Johnson and Johnson guilty of negligence.

Gloria Ristesund – $55 million – May 2, 2016 – A jury in Missouri found Johnson & Johnson guilty after Ristesund, who used the company’s products for decades, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

Jackie Fox – $72 million – February 22, 2016 – Fox was diagnosed with terminal cancer and passed away in 2015 after using Johnson’s baby powder for years. Her family was awarded $72 million dollars when her attorneys proved that Johnson & Johnson knew about studies linking its products to ovarian cancer and failed to warn customers about possible dangers.

Barbara Mihalich — No damages awarded — May, 2014 — Shortly after the Estrada talc verdict, Barbara Mihalich filed a class action suit alleging that she and other women faced a greater risk of developing ovarian cancer due to the use of Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products. The lawsuit cited studies as far back as the 1960s and claimed that the company knew about the potential health risks of their products, but never warned women about these dangers.

Mona Estrada — No damages awarded — April 2014 — Mona Estrada filed a class action lawsuit claiming that she had been using Johnson’s Baby Powder since 1950. She had expected the product to be safe based on Johnson & Johnson’s marketing claims and alleged 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. In October 2016, the case was transferred to multidistrict litigation.

Deane Berg – No damages awarded – November 22, 2013 – Berg brought the first talc case against Johnson & Johnson after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer. A federal jury sided with Berg, but no damages were awarded, because there wasn’t enough evidence connecting her diagnosis with talc. The jury did state that women should have been warned about the potential risks.

Which Products Are Involved?

baby powder and shower to shower powderShower-to-Shower powder has been used by women for nearly half a century because it absorbs moisture and covers up vaginal odors. Johnson & Johnson continued marketing the product to women for daily use under the slogan, “A sprinkle a day keeps odor away,” despite knowing about the research connecting talc with ovarian cancer.

Johnson’s Baby Powder has been a staple in diaper bags and medicine cabinets for generations to treat diaper rash and vaginal odors. Johnson & Johnson continues to claim that talc is safe, but parents should seek out safer alternatives like corn starch baby powders because of the cancer connection as well as infant lung problems.

How Does Talc Cause Cancer?

Talcum powder has long been linked to lung problems in miners and infants due to it’s fine texture and possible asbestos contamination. however, the more severe risk is the link with ovarian cancer.

Of women with ovarian cancer dusted themselves with talcum powder.Epidemiology, December 2015

Decades of studies have shown a connection between talc and ovarian cancer. Tumors have been found whether powders are applied directly to the genitals, or dusted onto underwear or sanitary napkins. It is believed that particles travel from the pelvic region to the ovaries causing inflammation, which eventually leads to the formation of cancerous tumors. Studies have shown as much as a 63% increase in cancer risk, prompting the International Agency for Research on Cancer to classify talc as a “possible carcinogen” for women.

If you want to know more about how talc causes cancer, or the process of filing a suit, get our Free Talc & Ovarian Cancer Guide.

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Talcum Powder & Ovarian Cancer

Should I Contact a Lawyer?

If you believe that your ovarian cancer diagnosis might have been caused by using talcum powder products, we can connect you with a lawyer to answer your questions for free. Since laws can vary depending upon where you live, and how long you used these products, it’s important to speak with an attorney who is familiar with these types of trials.

Waiting too long to file a claim can also limit your rights. Contact us, and we’ll put you in touch with one of our legal partners for a free and confidential case review within 24 hours.

How much does a lawsuit cost?

The attorneys we’ve partnered with work on a contingency basis. This means there are no legal fees unless you receive compensation in the form of a settlement or award (verdict). You will not need to give your attorney any money up front. Once you do receive an award, your lawyer will receive a percentage of the award as a fee for services and to pay costs associated with the trial. You can learn more about the process in our free Talc and Cancer Guide.

Multidistrict Litigation (MDL)

Most, if not all, baby powder cancer lawsuits are currently being handled as part of a multidistrict litigation (MDL). MDL cases are different from class action suits in that the plaintiffs file individual claims, but they are all handled through the same district court to make the process more efficient. MDLs are often set up when there are many similar cases that may have subtle differences. Talcum powder suits against Johnson & Johnson are being handled as part of MDL No. 2738 in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey.