Johnson & Johnson Faces Thousands of Lawsuit Over its Powder Products
Healthcare giant, Johnson & Johnson, is facing more than 2,000 talcum powder lawsuits that are pending in courts nationwide. The lawsuits were all filed on behalf of women who have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer after they used Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder or Shower-to-Shower products over a long period of time and for feminine hygiene use. The plaintiffs also allege that, since the 1970s, mounting studies have revealed a tie between genital talc use and an increased risk for developing ovarian cancer and that Johnson & Johnson has long been aware of this research but opted to put profits before consumer safety by concealing this information and not warning the public.
One of the largest talcum powder litigations in the United States is currently underway in Missouri’s 22nd Circuit Court for St. Louis. There, three trials were convened in 2016. All three juries delivered verdicts in favor of plaintiffs and ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay compensatory and punitive damage awards that totaled $55 million, $72 million, and $70 million. Jury selection for the litigation’s fourth trial is scheduled to be underway.
Approximately 100 additional cases filed against Johnson & Johnson over its Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products have been centralized in a federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) that is underway in the U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey: In Re: Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Products Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation—MDL No.2738. Another 224 cases are also pending in a multicounty litigation organized in New Jersey’s Atlantic County Superior Court: In Re: Talc-Based Powder Products—Case No. 300. Another 900 plaintiffs have filed lawsuits in California state court.
In response to the thousands of lawsuits Johnson & Johnson faces over talcum powder and increased risks of ovarian cancer, it filed a bid to delay the trials in the Missouri Court of appeals over allegations that the lawsuits were filed out of jurisdiction. In January 2016, the Missouri Court of Appeals tossed the motion and permitted the lawsuits to proceed in the jurisdiction in which they were filed. The court indicated that where the plaintiffs reside is unimportant and is allowing the next trial involving 60 plaintiffs. That trial is scheduled for February 6, 2017. Five trials are scheduled after that.
In the California litigation, a judge will not yet set a trial date for a woman who requested trial preference, giving her an earlier trial date because she may only have months to live. The woman alleges she used Johnson & Johnson talcum powder for years and was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007. According to her attorney, she may have only six months to live. Granting her trial preference would make her the first of 300 plaintiffs in a coordinated proceeding to have her claims heard. Judge Maren Nelson refused to set a trial date, stating that she required additional information to determine if trial preference is possible. The plaintiffs and defendants were ordered to answer the judge’s questions concerning the trial date before the judge schedules a start date; the judge also advised that procedure to handle the declining health of plaintiffs must be developed. The coordinated proceeding is Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Cases, number JCCP4872, in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles.
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 keeps up-to-date with talcum powder ovarian cancer research, continues to offer free legal consultations to individuals with questions about filing a talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuit.
More Research Ties Talc and Ovarian Cancer
Another study has revealed a potential association between the genital and hygienic use of talcum powder and an increased risk of ovarian cancer. The research was published January 2017 in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention. The research involved a meta-analysis of 24 previously published statistical analyses, as well as a number of prospective studies that involved more than 300,000 ovarian cancer patients. The women who had used talcum powder on their genitalia experienced an overall increased risk of ovarian cancer of approximately 20 percent. The research authors found these findings to be “statistically significant.” The associate director for cancer prevention at The Tisch Cancer Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital, Dr. Paolo Boffetta was the research team’s leader. Among the cases reviewed in his analysis, talc use may have dated as far back as decades, according to Dr. Boffetta.
Talc is a mineral that is mostly comprised of magnesium, silicon, and oxygen. Talcum powder is frequently added to cosmetic and personal products because of its ability to absorb excess moisture and reduce friction. When used as a baby powder, talc keeps skin dry and prevents diaper rash. Talc is also present in numerous adult body and facial powders. Talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits are filed on behalf of women who used talc-based products in their genital or perineal region, on sanitary napkins, and in their underwear for feminine hygiene.
Every year, 22,000 women receive a diagnosis of ovarian cancer; 14,000 women die of ovarian cancer each year, according to statistics from the American Cancer Society. Ovarian cancer is the most lethal cancer of the female reproductive system and is a very aggressive cancer with a low survival rate. Physicians say that most of the cases of ovarian cancer diagnosed are sporadic. This means that the diagnosis is not able to be associated with an exact cause. Because symptoms are vague, women may not be diagnosed until the cancer has advanced to late stages. Early symptoms of ovarian cancer are often mistaken for abdominal or menstrual discomfort. Plaintiffs want to ensure that the lawsuits brought against Johnson & Johnson will continue even if they die. Sadly, nearly 60 percent of women who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer are diagnosed at stage three when the five-year survival rate may be as low as 34 percent.
Studies dating back as far as 1971 suggest that talcum powder used as a feminine hygiene product may lead to the development of ovarian cancer. Specifically, scientists believe that when talc is applied to the genital area, small talc particles may migrate into the vagina and eventually to the ovaries. The talc particles cause inflammation, which is thought to contribute to tumor formation.
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).