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Talcum Powder and Ovarian Cancer Lawsuit

Have you or a loved one been diagnosed with ovarian cancer after using Baby Powder or Shower to Shower for genital dusting?

Studies have evidenced a potential link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer. Our experienced lawyers can help you with your talcum powder and ovarian cancer lawsuit. We’ll make sure you’re represented fairly and accurately so you can leave the sleepless nights to us.

Can Baby Powder Really Cause Cancer?

Studies dating back to 1971 have continued to evidence a potential link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer. Johnson & Johnson has continued to use talcum powder in its Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products anyways, putting you at risk. If you’ve used one of these products and have contracted ovarian cancer, let GoldenbergLaw help in your talcum powder and ovarian cancer lawsuit.

Talcum Powder and Cancer: Case Quick Facts

The Problem

Depending on usage, women who genitally dust with talcum powder may be almost three times as likely to develop ovarian cancer due to long-term irritation of the ovaries and the actual presence of talcum fibers within ovarian tissue.

The Injuries

Ovarian cancer is a devastating disease for both the patient and her loved ones. Diagnosis often results in chemotherapy, radiation, surgical intervention, and death.

The Defendant(s)

Johnson & Johnson, one of the world’s largest companies, manufactures and distributes Baby Powder and Shower to Shower. Despite the trust placed in the company by women all across America, J&J has never warned of the increased risk of ovarian cancer from genital dusting of talc even though it was aware of the potential link for more than three decades.

Litigation Status – Active
Thousands of women from across the country have filed lawsuits alleging their ovarian cancer was caused by use of J&J’s talcum powder products. Litigation is ongoing in St. Louis, Missouri, where six separate trials have resulted in three jury verdicts awarding over $4.9 billion. A Multidistrict Litigation has also been formed in the District of New Jersey and assigned to The Honorable Judge Freda L. Wolfson.

GoldenbergLaw Can Help

When it comes to handling a talcum powder and ovarian cancer lawsuit, our team is more than qualified to take on the case. GoldenbergLaw has had years of experience with drug-related cases and has had a great amount of success throughout those years. If you have been affected negatively by talcum powder, contact us and get a free consultation.

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If you believe you or a loved one may have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer as a result of talcum powder use, please call a talcum powder lawsuit lawyer. Our team will handle it. Leave the sleepless nights to us.

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Major Developments in the Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder Litigation

J&J pulls talc products from the market in the U.S. and Canada and Plaintiffs’ expert witnesses are allowed to testify in the MDL.

On May 19, 2020, Johnson & Johnson announced their decision to discontinue sales of their talc-based Baby Powder products in the United States and Canada.

Although the decision to discontinue sales of talc-based Baby Powder products comes amidst a firestorm of lawsuits claiming that the product contains asbestos and causes ovarian cancer, Johnson & Johnson claims that it was a “commercial decision.” The company claims that the commercial decision is based on the 60% decline in sales of talc-based Baby Powder since 2017 as a result of consumer habits changing—likely due to the multitude of lawsuits filed over the safety of the product.

The lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based Baby Powder allege that the products caused ovarian cancer in thousands of women across the country. 

The firestorm increased when the lawsuits revealed internal company records and trial evidence that show that since at least 1971 to the early 2000s, Johnson & Johnson’s raw talc and finished talc powders sometimes tested positive for small amounts of asbestos and that the company was aware of this.

Additionally, Johnson & Johnson has been the target of a federal criminal investigation into the lack of transparency surrounding the safety of their talc products—including a Congressional subcommittee investigation about the health of asbestos in talc-containing consumer products. Furthermore, 41 states have opened investigations into Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder.

Judge Wolfson’s Daubert Ruling on Plaintiffs’ Expert Witnesses 

US District Judge Freda Wolfson who oversees the New Jersey-based multidistrict litigation (MDL) containing more than 16,000 talcum powder lawsuits ruled that testimony from five plaintiffs’ expert witnesses could be presented to juries.

This is the first ruling by a federal judge on the reliability of plaintiffs’ experts testifying about whether or not Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based baby powder causes ovarian cancer.

The ruling means that plaintiffs’ experts will be able to testify before juries that Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based products can contribute to the development of ovarian cancer.

There are more than 16,000 talcum powder cases that have been consolidated into the MDL overseen by Judge Wolfson and a selection of these cases will be chosen for early “bellwether” trials.

Bellwether trials aid in determining the strength of each side’s case and aid in the potential settlement process.

Upcoming Bellwether Trials

By definition, “bellwether” is an indicator of future trends. Courts use the bellwether approach when large quantities of plaintiffs are proceeding with their lawsuits using the same theory or claim. 

In bellwether trials, specific individual plaintiffs are chosen from within the much larger group of all plaintiffs with filed cases. Bellwether trials necessarily involve the common causational claims and liability arguments in all plaintiffs’ cases within the larger litigation, but they also involve the issues of specific causation and damages unique to the individual bellwether plaintiff. The idea behind the bellwether process is for these individual representative cases to be tried and serve as “bellwethers” for other plaintiffs’ trials giving plaintiffs and defendants critical information regarding the litigation as a whole and allowing for more accurate valuation of the entire group’s claims. Bellwether trials in the MDL before Judge Wolfson are likely to begin sometime in 2021. 

Several lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson over talcum powder have already proceeded in state courts around the country, including one in St. Louis, Missouri with 22 plaintiffs that produced a record $4.69 billion verdict for the plaintiffs in July 2018.  That verdict was recently reduced to about $2.1 billion. 

 

Talcum Powder Litigation Timeline

The talcum powder litigation has been hard fought for years. Since 2013, there have been a slew of plaintiff verdicts and settlements, defense verdicts, and class action filings. Below is a timeline of the complicated history of this ongoing litigation.

November 2013: Plaintiff Verdict; No Damages Awarded

In the first known talcum powder case, plaintiff Deane Berg alleged that the Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder that she had used for 40 years caused her ovarian cancer. J&J offered her an out-of-court confidential settlement of $1.3 million. However, Deane declined because she wanted the company to put warning labels on the product or remove it from the shelves. When J&J refused, she took her case to trial. The jury found Johnson & Johnson negligent but did not award damages.

September 2015: Class Action Case Filed

Barbara Mihalich filed a class action lawsuit in Illinois’ Southern District claiming that Johnson & Johnson profited unjustly from talc products. The class action was transferred to the New Jersey multi-district litigation (MDL) in October 2016.

February 2016: $72 Million Plaintiff Verdict Awarded

In February 2016, a St. Louis jury awarded Alabama plaintiff Jacqueline Fox’s family a verdict of $72 million. Jacqueline passed away from ovarian cancer after using J&J’s talc-based products for the majority of her life. This marked the first verdict where the jury awarded damages to a plaintiff claiming J&J’s baby powder contributed to her ovarian cancer diagnosis. However, in October 2017, the Missouri Court of Appeals ruled that the case should not have been tried in St. Louis since the case did not “arise out of J&J’s activities in Missouri” and overturned the verdict.

May 2016: $55 Million Plaintiff Verdict Awarded

A St. Louis jury returned a verdict of $55 million to plaintiff Gloria Ristesund who claimed that her ovarian cancer had been caused by her decades-long use of Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based products. However, in June 2018 the Missouri appeals court threw out the verdict due to a 2017 U.S. Supreme Court decision that limits where companies can be sued for personal injuries.

October 2016: $70 Million Plaintiff Verdict Awarded

A St. Louis jury returned a verdict of $70 million to plaintiff Deborah Giannecchini, who was diagnosed with Stage 4 ovarian cancer in 2013 after using talcum powder for genital dusting since 1967. However, in July 2019, the Missouri Appeals Court determined that there will be a new trial in the case.

October 2016: Federal Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) Formed

In October 2016, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) consolidated the federal talcum powder cases under one multidistrict litigation (MDL) overseen by U.S. District Judge Freda L. Wolfson in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. A case management order issued in February 2019 by Judge Wolfson allows future talcum powder cases to be directly filed into the MDL federal court in New Jersey. Currently, there are more than 16,000 cases in the talcum powder MDL.

March 2017: Defense Verdict

A St. Louis jury sided with J&J in a lawsuit brought by plaintiff Nora Daniels, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2013 after more than three decades of using J&J’s Baby Powder for genital dusting. The jury found that there was an insufficient link between Nora’s talcum powder use and her ovarian cancer. This trial was the first victory for the defense following three trials in 2016 where the juries sided with the plaintiffs.

May 2017: $110 Million Plaintiff Verdict

A St. Louis jury awarded plaintiff Lois Slemp $110 million in her lawsuit regarding her ovarian cancer diagnosis after she used J&J’s talc-based products for over 40 years. In May 2019, the Missouri appeals court overturned the verdict against J&J stating that out-of-state plaintiffs could not sue within the state.

August 2017: $417 Million Plaintiff Verdict

A California jury awarded plaintiff Eva Echeverria $417 million. Eva had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007 after years of using J&J’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products. This case was the first to be tried in complex litigation consolidating California claims against J&J. However, in July 2019, the California appeals court ordered a retrial of the 2017 case. The resulting retrial ended in a defense verdict.

February 2018: Shareholders File Class Action Lawsuit

Shareholder Frank Hall initiated a federal class action lawsuit in New Jersey against Johnson & Johnson in February 2018 and alleged that the company knew its products contained asbestos and that the exposure could cause mesothelioma and ovarian cancer. Frank also claimed that J&J kept its stock price artificially high by hiding the presence of the dangerous substance—harming investors when stock prices plunged 10% after media reports of the alleged cover-up.

April 2018: $117 Million Plaintiff Verdict

A New Jersey state court jury sided with plaintiff Stephen Lanzo III and his wife over claims that Johnson & Johnson and its talc supplier, Imerys Talc America, sold and distributed asbestos-containing talcum powder that contributed to Stephen’s mesothelioma after decades of use. J&J appealed, but the verdict was upheld in 2018. This marked the first mesothelioma verdict involving J&J’s talc-based products.

May 2018: $25.7 Million Plaintiff Verdict

A California jury awarded $25.7 million to plaintiffs Joanne and Gary Anderson after Joanne developed malignant mesothelioma after years of talcum powder use. The jury found the company 67% responsible for Joanne’s cancer diagnosis while the remaining 33% was attributed to Joanne’s exposure to asbestos manufactured by other companies when her husband worked on cars in her presence.

June 2018: Ongoing Class Action

A Missouri class action involving Cynthia Gibson, Heidi Amiro, Lois Arnstein and others was filed against Johnson & Johnson. The lawsuit claims that the plaintiffs were exposed to asbestos and other carcinogens through the use of J&J’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products and the exposure contributed to their ovarian cancer diagnoses. Additionally, the lawsuit claims that J&J failed to warn consumers of the cancer risks associated with their talc-based products.

July 2018: $4.69 Billion Plaintiff Verdict

A St. Louis jury awarded $4.69 billion to 22 women who claimed that J&J’s Baby Powder contains asbestos and substantially contributed to their development of ovarian cancer. This was the first multi-plaintiff trial in the St. Louis talcum powder litigation and the first ovarian cancer trial to include the claim that the company’s talc-based products contain asbestos. J&J’s talc supplier, Imery’s Talc America, settled with the 22 plaintiffs for $5 million prior to trial. The damages were later cut to $2.12 billion by the Missouri appeals court.

October 2018: Defense Verdict

A Middlesex County, New Jersey jury handed down a unanimous verdict for the defense after concluding that plaintiff Rosalind Henry’s mesothelioma was not caused by inhaling asbestos through fibers allegedly within the J&J Baby Powder she used. Rosalind claimed to have been exposed to asbestos for decades—starting when she was an infant—and that J&J withheld knowledge of asbestos within its cosmetic baby powder products.

December 2018: $1.5 Million Settlement

Johnson & Johnson and talc supplier Imerys Talc America agreed to settle a case similar to Stephen Lanzo III’s for $1.5 million. The plaintiff, Ann Zoas, claimed that she developed mesothelioma after using J&J’s Baby Powder daily for genital hygiene in addition to inhaling the product over decades of cosmetic use. This was the first reported settlement by Johnson & Johnson in the talcum powder litigation.

March 2019: $29.5 Million Plaintiff Verdict

An Oakland, California jury awarded plaintiff Teresa Leavitt $29.5 million in her mesothelioma case after she used Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based Baby Powder for more than 30 years for hygienic reasons. The jury found that the baby powder was a “substantial contributing factor” in her illness.

March 2019: Defense Verdict

A New Jersey jury ruled in favor of Johnson & Johnson in a unanimous verdict in the case of Ricard Rimondi, who alleged that his decades of using J&J’s Baby Powder had caused his mesothelioma. However, the jury concluded that his cancer was more likely caused by him living in close proximity to an asbestos factory.

May 2019: Defense Verdict

A Richland County, South Carolina jury ruled in favor of Johnson & Johnson and against plaintiff Beth-Ann Johnson who claimed that J&J’s talc-based products caused her peritoneal mesothelioma. The plaintiff’s mother had used J&J’s Baby Powder multiple times a day when she was a baby and continued to use it for the next two decades.

May 2019: $25 Million Plaintiff Verdict

A New York state jury found Johnson & Johnson liable to Donna Olson and her husband for $25 million over claims that Donna’s daily use of J&J’s talc-based Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products from 1953-2015 caused her pleural mesothelioma.

June 2019: $12 Million Plaintiff Verdict

An Alameda County jury in California found Johnson & Johnson and co-defendant Colgate-Palmolive each 40% liable in plaintiff Patricia Schmitz’s mesothelioma case and awarded Patricia $12 million for the co-defendants failure to warn about known risks associated with their talcum powder products in addition to the presence of asbestos in cosmetic talc products.

August 2019: Defense Verdict

A jury in Kentucky state court ruled in favor of Johnson & Johnson and Colgate Palmolive Inc. against the survivors of Donna Ann Hayes. Donna died from mesothelioma, which her family members alleged was caused by her use of J&J's talc-based products.

September 2019: $37.2 Million Plaintiff Verdict

A New Jersey state court jury awarded $37.2 million to 4 plaintiffs—Douglas Barden, David Etheridge, D’Angela McNeill-George and Will Ronning—who claimed that they developed mesothelioma after inhaling asbestos in Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products.

September 2019: $40.3 Million Plaintiff Verdict

A Los Angeles, California jury awarded Idaho plaintiff Nancy Cabibi and her spouse $40.3 million in damages. Nancy Cabibi was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2017 and alleged that Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products contained asbestos, which contributed to her cancer diagnosis.

October 2019: Mistrial in Georgia

The first Georgia talcum powder trial against Johnson & Johnson ended in a mistrial. The jury deadlocked 10-2 in favor of plaintiff Diane Brower who died of ovarian cancer in 2016 after a three-year battle. The family claimed that Diane’s cancer was caused by J&J's talc-based baby powder, which Diane used in her genital area for years.

February 2020: $750 Million Plaintiff Verdict

A jury in New Jersey’s state court ordered J&J to pay $750 million to four plaintiffs who developed mesothelioma after using the company's talc-based baby powder. In June 2020, Judge Viscomi reduced the punitive damages to $186 and said that “J&J’s conduct here was reprehensible.”

April 2020: Talcum Powder MDL Judge Allows Plaintiffs’ Expert Witnesses

U.S. District Judge Freda Wolfson, who oversees the New Jersey-based talcum powder multidistrict litigation (MDL), ruled that five of plaintiffs’ expert witnesses could testify that J&J's talc-based baby powder contains asbestos and can contribute to the development of ovarian cancer. This decision cleared the way for bellwether trials to begin in the MDL.

May 2020: J&J Pulls Talcum Powder Products from the U.S. and Canadian Markets

On May 19, 2020, J&J announced its decision to discontinue sales of their talc-based Baby Powder products in the United States and Canada. J&J claimed that this was a “commercial decision.” However, the decision came amidst a firestorm of lawsuits alleging that J&J’s talc-based products contained asbestos as well as investigations by 41 states and the federal government into the safety of its talc-based products.

July 2020: Development in Class Action by J&J Investors

In July 2020, a proposed class of Johnson & Johnson investors—the San Diego County Employees Retirement Association—asked Judge Wolfson to certify the class representatives who had bought J&J stock between February 22, 2013 and December 13, 2018. The retirement association argued that consolidating the claims as a class action “will conserve judicial resources, prevent inconsistent rulings, and allow class members whose individual claims may be too small to make litigation against a behemoth like J&J economically feasible.” There has not yet been a decision on this issue.

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What is Talcum Powder (Talc)?

Talc is a mineral comprised mainly of magnesium, silicon, and oxygen. It is widely used in many cosmetic products and powders to prevent wetness, chaffing, and rashes. Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has used talc in their Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products for many generations, developing a large and loyal customer-base throughout the years.

The Link Between Talcum Powder and Ovarian Cancer

Studies dating back to 1971 have shown a potential link between talc and ovarian cancer. “Just a sprinkle a day keeps odor away” is what Johnson & Johnson (J&J) told women across the nation since the 1980s, encouraging them to use the powder for genital dusting. The slogan invokes obvious negative connotations regarding the cleanliness of female genitals, but if that isn’t enough to ruffle your feathers, consider this: J&J became aware of the potential link in 1982 when executives met with Dr. Daniel Cramer, an epidemiologist at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston who had published a study on the link between talc and ovarian cancer in the journal Cancer.

Despite these developments in the case against J&J, the company continues to adamantly deny any link between talc and ovarian cancer and refuses to pull the talc-based products from the market. In two 1997 letters to company officials, toxicologist Alfred P. Wehner, an internal consultant for J&J, attacked the company’s stance on the issue:

“Anybody who denies this [link between talc and ovarian cancer] risks that the talc industry will be perceived by the public like it perceives the cigarette industry: denying the obvious in the face of all evidence to the contrary.”

2013 Study Finds Risk of Talcum Powder and Cancer

A study in 2013 found that women have a 20-30 percent increase in developing ovarian cancer when using talcum powder for the purpose of genital dusting.

The Association Between Talc Use and Ovarian Cancer

Dr. Cramer recently published another study showing an overall association between talc use and epithelial ovarian cancer—an association that is stronger in African Americans.

2008 Study Links Talcum Powder to Ovarian Cancer

Since Dr. Cramer’s 1982 study, over 20 other studies have been published connecting the genital use of talc to ovarian cancer.

In 2008, Harvard epidemiologist Dr. Margaret Gates reaffirmed that weekly use of talcum powder for perineal use increases the risk for ovarian cancer by 33 percent, and daily use by 41 percent.

Why Choose GoldenbergLaw?

When it comes to handling a talcum powder and ovarian cancer lawsuit, our team is more than qualified to take on the case. GoldenbergLaw has had years of experience with defective drug and device litigations and has had a great amount of success throughout those years. If you have been affected negatively by talcum powder, contact us and get a free consultation.

 

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