J&J to Face More Talcum Powder Ovarian Cancer Litigation in 2017

J&J to Face More Talcum Powder Ovarian Cancer Cases
J&J to Face More Talcum Powder Ovarian Cancer Cases

Talcum Powder Lawsuit Scheduled for Trial in February

Talcum powder litigation against Johnson & Johnson will continue to proceed in 2017, as a talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuit is scheduled for trial in February. In 2016, the company was hit with three multimillion dollar talcum powder verdicts. Lawsuits allege that talc-based products, such as J&J’s Shower-to-Shower and Baby Powder, contributed to ovarian cancer. Plaintiffs allege that the company should have disclosed the possible risk, so that consumers could make a fully informed decision about whether to apply talcum powder for feminine hygiene.

The product liability attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP have decades of experience representing clients in lawsuits over allegedly defective or dangerous products. The firm, which regularly provides talcum powder lawsuit updates, continues to offer free legal consultations to individuals with questions about filing a talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuit.

A talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuit is slated for trial on Feb. 7, 2017, court documents show. Jurors will hear arguments regarding the claims of six plaintiffs. These individuals allege that using J&J talcum powder products in the genital region caused cancer, and that the company failed to disclose the risks.

Talcum powder contains talc, a mineral mainly composed of magnesium, silicon and oxygen. Many cosmetic and personal products use talcum powder because it absorbs excess moisture and reduces friction. As such, it helps keep skin dry and prevents rash. Talcum powder is a main component in baby powder as well as some adult body and facial powders. Some women also use talcum powder products in the genital region for feminine hygiene. These products are placed in the underwear or on sanitary napkins, for instance.

Talcum powder litigation focuses on talc and ovarian cancer when these products are used regularly in the genital region. Lawsuits allege that J&J ignored studies linking talcum powder to ovarian cancer. The company should have placed a warning label on its products so consumers could be fully informed, plaintiffs allege. Talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits point to findings published several decades ago; one paper in 1971 cited talc particles in ovarian tumors. Another study, conducted by researchers at Harvard, found a link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer in 1982. Other studies have produced mixed results.

Recently, a study published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention identified a small, but statistically significant link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer. The study was a meta-analysis, which analyzes data from multiple studies to identify a common effect.
J&J says that its talcum powder products are safe for feminine hygiene use, and denies the allegations in the lawsuits.

Juries Award Verdicts to Talcum Powder Plaintiffs

Three talcum powder trials produced multimillion dollar verdicts in 2016, Parker Waichman notes. The large awards drew more attention to talcum powder litigation in the media. The first verdict was awarded in February, when jurors handed down a verdict of $72 million to the family of a woman who died of ovarian cancer. J&J was hit with another $55 million verdict in May 2016.

In the most recent verdict, jurors awarded $70 million to a talcum powder plaintiff. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a California woman who used talcum powder for over 45 years. She was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer, allegedly due to using talcum powder for feminine hygiene. The verdict consisted of $65 million in punitive damages. The trial also resulted in a verdict against talc supplier Talc America, who was ordered to pay $2.3 million in punitive damages. It was the first time the company was hit with a talcum powder ovarian cancer verdict.

When juries feel that a liable party’s actions warrant additional punishment, they award punitive damages. In issuing the verdict, the jury found that J&J did not sufficiently warn consumers about the possible risks.

“It seemed like Johnson & Johnson didn’t pay attention,” one juror said to Bloomberg. “It seemed like they didn’t care.”

During the most recent trial, plaintiffs presented an expert witness testimony. The expert witness runs a compliance consulting firm for over-the-counter drugs and cosmetic products. He told jurors that J&J should have placed a warning on its talcum powder products in 1982, citing the Harvard study. He was also critical of how J&J handled future talcum powder studies, referring to 1994 documents showing the company did not want to pay for the studies and instead wanted the government to fund the research. “If you want to be self-regulated, step up to the plate and pay for the studies,” he said, according to Law360. “If you don’t want to be self-regulated, then have the taxpayers pay for it. I don’t think you can have it both ways.”

J&J to Face More Talcum Powder Ovarian Cancer Cases
J&J to Face More Talcum Powder Ovarian Cancer Cases

Talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits were consolidated into a federal multidistrict litigation in October 2016. Cases were consolidated in New Jersey before U.S. District Judge Freda L. Wolfson. MDLs are a type of mass tort where similar lawsuits are grouped before one judge, making legal proceedings more efficient. In the talcum powder MDL, plaintiffs similarly allege that genital use of J&J talcum powder products contributed to ovarian cancer. J&J is accused of knowing the risks but failing to warn consumers.

Bellwether cases are the first lawsuits in a mass tort selected for trial. The outcome of bellwether trials can influence the remaining litigation. For example, if large verdicts are awarded to plaintiffs then companies may be more inclined to settle.

Many talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits were filed individually, but class action lawsuits are filed as well. Court records show that one class action lawsuit was recently filed on behalf of 81 plaintiffs. As with other talcum powder ovarian cancer claims, the lawsuit alleges that talcum powder led to ovarian cancer. The suit alleges that the cancer resulted from the “unreasonably dangerous and defective nature of talcum powder and [Johnson & Johnson’s] wrongful and negligent conduct in the research, development, testing, manufacture, production, promotion, distribution, marketing, and sale of talcum powder.”

Questions about Talcum Powder Lawsuits?

If you or someone you know wants to learn more about filing a talcum powder lawsuit, contact the personal injury attorneys at Parker Waichman today. Our firm offers free, no-obligation case evaluations. For more information, fill out our online form or call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).