J&J to Pay $417M in Talcum Powder and Ovarian Cancer Lawsuit

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Public Health Watchdog Breaking News
Public Health Watchdog Breaking News

The largest settlement amount to date has been awarded to a Los Angeles woman in a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson (J&J). The plaintiff sued the company for selling talcum powder that allegedly caused her ovarian cancer. The 63-year-old plaintiff was awarded $70 million in compensatory damages and $347 million in punitive damages, for a total of $417 million, according to CBS News.

Plaintiff’s Allegations

The plaintiff said that J&J neglected to warn consumers about the risk of cancer from regular use of talcum powder. She had used Baby Powder from the 1950s until 2016 as part of her daily feminine hygiene regimen and stopped using it only after hearing a news story about a woman diagnosed with cancer after using the product. The plaintiff was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007 and is still undergoing treatment. She said she would not have used the talcum powder if there had been a label alerting her of the possibility of the product causing cancer, CNN reports.

It is reported that the plaintiff is dying from ovarian cancer and she expressed that all she wanted to do was to help other women throughout the country who have ovarian cancer because of using Johnson & Johnson talcum powder products for decades. There was also the hope conveyed that the verdict would lead J&J to add sufficient warnings on its products.

Parker Waichman LLP is a national law firm with extensive and successful experience in product liability litigation, including talcum powder’s alleged link to ovarian cancer. Attorneys at the firm are available to answer questions for anyone seeking legal information for potential lawsuits.

A J&J representative expressed that with all sympathy for the women suffering from cancer, the company insists that their talc-based products are safe and that there is insufficient scientific evidence provided to confirm a link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer. J&J plans to appeal this recent verdict.

Previous Verdicts and Awards

In February 2016, the first talc award against J&J was handed down in a St. Louis state court with the jury ordering J&J to pay $72 million. J&J won in only one of the four talc trials that followed in the same court. The other verdicts ranged from $55 million to $110.5 million to a woman who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012.

Before this recent award was announced, J&J was mandated to pay more than $300 million in multiple talcum powder cases. In addition, there are close to 1,000 other cases pending, reports CBS News.

The American Cancer Society stated that the potential connection between talcum powder and ovarian cancer is mixed. Some reports say there is a risk when women use talcum powder in the genital area while other research supports J&J’s claim.

Talcum Powder Background

Talcum powder is used in various cosmetic products, such as baby powder and adult body and facial powders. Made from talc, a mineral that consists of the elements magnesium, silicon, and oxygen, the powder is used to absorb moisture and prevent odor, and is often used in the genital area. Asbestos is in some talc products, a substance that is a known carcinogen and is linked to cancers in and around the lungs when inhaled, according to the American Cancer Society.

J&J’s talc-based products are classified as cosmetics, and are therefore, not in the category to undergo a review or approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), reports BioSpace.com.

In 1971, British researchers examined 13 ovarian tumors and found talc residue was “deeply imbedded” in 10 of them. This was the first study that suggested a link between talc and ovarian cancer, reports Bloomberg News.

Minorities Allegedly Targeted to Buy J&J Talc Products

In an opening statement in one of the Missouri jury trials over J&J’s talc products, counsel for three women who died of ovarian cancer after using J&J’s products said that J&J boosted sales by targeting African-American women. Those representing the families of the deceased J&J talcum powder product users told the jury J&J had put its corporate image “over the life of their customers.”

This was revealed by internal company documents that showed, that when company sales were flagging, J&J especially targeted groups of women that used talc on their genital areas at a higher rate as part of their regular feminine hygiene routine. These groups included African-American women who it was revealed in studies to have an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer when using talc on their genital areas, according to Law360.

Fraud and Misrepresentation Claims

A major complaint heard from many of the women coming forward to confront J&J is that the company had knowledge of the existing potential dangers and alleged connection of the talc products to ovarian cancer, yet opted to keep selling them without warning consumers. Many plaintiffs have made claims for fraud, misrepresentation, and conspiracy.

Legal Information for Talc-Based Product Issues

If you or someone you know has been injured by a Johnson & Johnson talc-based product, such as Baby Powder or Shower-to-Shower, you may be eligible for compensation. Parker Waichman LLP offers free, no-obligation case evaluations. We urge you to contact the personal injury lawyers at 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).