Talcum Powder Multidistrict Litigation Progresses

Public Health Watchdog Breaking News
Public Health Watchdog Breaking News

MDL Underway in the U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey Moving Forward

Dozens of talcum powder lawsuits have been filed on behalf of women who allege that they developed ovarian cancer due to their hygienic use Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based powders—Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower powder. The lawsuits are progressing in a multidistrict litigation (MDL) that is now underway in the U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey.

A letter was submitted to the Court on March 3, 2017 indicating that the involved parties have been meeting and conferring by telephone on a weekly basis and that the parties have all agreed on a Protective Order that was submitted to, and entered by, the Court on March 1, 2017. The letter included information on discussions concerning Electronically Stored Information (ESI) protocol, a Preservation Order, and alternative options to a Plaintiff Fact Sheet and that these discussions continue. The MDL is In Re: Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Products Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation—MDL No.2738. A Preservation Order is also known as a Litigation Hold or Hold Order and is a stipulation that mandates preservation of all data that may relate to a legal action, ensuring that the data in question will be available for the discovery process prior to litigation.

In a recent U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) report, Johnson & Johnson reported that it has been named a defendant in at least 3,100 product liability claims involving its talc-based powders and allegations of ovarian cancer. As of February 15, 2017, a total of 134 cases were pending in the MDL underway in the District of New Jersey.

One of the nation’s largest talcum powder litigations is underway in Missouri’s 22nd Circuit Court in St. Louis. There, four cases have reached trial and just one jury has found in favor of the health care giant. The plaintiffs in the three additional trials were awarded compensatory and punitive damages amounting to $72 million, $70 million, and $55 million, respectively. Missouri’s fifth talcum powder trial is scheduled to begin in April and that case is Case No 1422-CC09012-01.

Plaintiffs pursuing talcum powder lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson allege that their ongoing genital application of Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower talc-based powders contributed to their having developed ovarian cancer. The women—or their surviving family—accuse Johnson & Johnson of intentionally ignoring research that dates as far back as the 1970s and that suggests that such a link exists. Allegations include that it was Johnson & Johnson’s alleged failure to warn consumers of this risk, which was motivated by a desire to protect the revenues it received from the sale of its talcum powder products.

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.

Talc-based products, including baby powder are meant to reduce friction and absorb moisture. Because of this, talc is used in various personal hygiene and cosmetic products, including adult body and facial powders. As a baby power, talc is used to help prevent diaper rash.

The talcum powder litigation stems from the genital use of talcum powder. Some women sprinkle the product on their underwear, panty liners, or sanitary napkins for feminine hygiene purposes. Talcum powder lawsuits allege that the genital use of talcum powder may increase the risk of ovarian cancer. Lawsuits allege that fine talc particles may travel up the female reproductive tract and reach the ovaries where the particles may build up, triggering the type of inflammation that is known to lead to cancer growth. Plaintiffs cite various studies to support these allegations, and allege that J&J should have warned of the issue. Some lawsuits refer to 1971 findings in which researchers reported discovering talc particles embedded in ovarian tumors. Plaintiffs also cite a 1982 study as evidence that genital use of talcum powder is related to ovarian cancer.

Research Associates Talc Products to Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer is the most lethal among the cancers of the female reproductive system. Physicians agree that precautions are important, given that there is no screening for ovarian cancer. Since ovarian cancer symptoms are vague, women with this cancer are often not diagnosed until later stages, when survival rates decrease.

On a prior case during an expert testimony, jurors heard that Johnson & Johnson should have placed an ovarian cancer warning on its talcum powder products since 1982. David C. Steinberg gave the expert testimony. Mr. Steinberg runs a topical over-the-counter drug compliance consulting firm and also founded the Cosmetic Preservatives Council. He cited a 1982 study and others tying talcum powder use in the genital area with an increased risk of ovarian cancer.

According to Law360, talcum powder was first associated with ovarian cancer based on a 1971 issue of a British journal, which documented that talc particles were found to be embedded in ovarian tumors. Other studies have released similar findings. During his testimony, Mr. Steinberg said that most manufacturers stay up-to-date with the most recent medical research, allowing device makers to keep current with safety concerns, business problems, or opportunities.

Mr. Steinberg also cited 1994 documents that revealed that Johnson & Johnson did not want to fund studies that analyzed the safety of talc. The company sought to have the government provide funding, which Mr. Steinberg said was not appropriate. “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.”

Dr. Eva Chalas, chief of gynecologic oncology and vice-chair of obstetrics and gynecology at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, commented that, “The whole issue of talcum powder is seen as a possible agent…. Anything that can get in the peritoneal cavity can increase the risk,” according to Newsday. “We discourage patients from using anything that increases irritation or inflammation.”

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).