Some of Johnson & Johnson’s most popular products have been its line of bath and shower products that are made with talcum powder, including Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower-to Shower. But evidence is piling up that talc-based products may not be safe for women due to a link with ovarian cancer, and multiple lawsuits have been filed as women seek to hold J&J responsible. Juries have been listening to women, too, as several multi-million-dollar verdicts have been issued against the company. Here’s what you need to know about talc and the lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson.
Baby Powder History and Lawsuit Timeline
Johnson & Johnson first began producing its talc-based baby powder as early as 1893 as a cure for diaper rash. Talcum powder is made from talc, a mineral found in the Earth that has been mined extensively for industrial and commercial purposes throughout history. It has many uses in medicine, pharmaceuticals, body care and cosmetic products, and even in food production. However, modern research standards have since produced evidence that talc may not be as safe as manufacturers have claimed in the past.
Here are some of the most important events in recent talcum powder history:
- 1971: A study of ovarian tumors found talc particles embedded in 75% of tumors examined.
- 1982: A study found that female talcum powder users were three times more likely to develop ovarian cancer after applying it to the perineal (genital and anal) region.
- 1992: A study of perineal talc exposure also suggests that talc use increases cancer risk.
- 2003: A review published in the journal Anticancer Research shows a 33 percent increase in the risk of ovarian cancer after perineal application.
- 2006–2007: Deane Berg noticed strange symptoms with her monthly period and spoke to her doctor, and was told she needed to have her ovaries removed. After the procedure, doctors discovered that she had stage III ovarian cancer, leading to a hysterectomy and chemotherapy.
- 2013: Deane Berg won her lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson, and a federal jury in South Dakota found the company liable yet awarded no damages to the victim.
- February 2016: A St. Louis jury awarded the family of a woman who died of ovarian cancer $10 million in actual damages, and a further $62 million for punitive damages. The jury found that not only did Johnson & Johnson fail in its duty to warn the public of the risks of its product, but also that the company conspired to hide the truth about the link between talc and ovarian cancer.
- May 2016: Another St. Louis jury awarded $5 million in actual damages and $50 million in punitive damage to a woman for claims that daily use of talcum powder was responsible for her ovarian cancer diagnosis, leading to the need for a hysterectomy and other medical procedures.
- May 2016: A retrospective study published in the journal Epidemiology further links talcum powder with ovarian cancer by showing an increased risk for women who are long-time users of perineal talc.
- October 2016: A jury awards a woman from Modesto, California, over $70 million in a lawsuit alleging that Johnson & Johnson acted with “negligent conduct” in the production and sale of its flagship baby powder product.
- January 2017: The Missouri Supreme Court denies a motion by Johnson & Johnson to move most of the lawsuits pending against it out of Missouri, and back to courts around the nation where the plaintiffs are located.
- March 2017: A Missouri jury rules against a woman with ovarian cancer, in favor of Johnson & Johnson.
- May 2017: A Virginia woman is awarded $110 million by a jury in Missouri after filing a lawsuit for a diagnosis of ovarian cancer in 2012.
As many as 2,500 lawsuits are still pending against Johnson & Johnson. This stampede of litigation shows little sign of slowing down as sick women and their families seek relief from a company that may have put profits over the wellbeing of customers. A motion has been made to create a Multi-District Litigation (MDL) suit to consolidate the legal complaints and speed up the litigation process to provide faster relief to suffering women.
Get Legal Help Today
If you or a loved one have suffered from ovarian cancer and you think talcum powder might be responsible, Wayne Wright LLP would like to hear from you. We represent clients all across Texas in cases against big companies who shamefully sell dangerous products to the public without regard to safety or health risks, and we will stand up for your rights in the court of law to get you the compensation that you deserve. Call us by phone, click the live chat box, or visit the contact link on this page today to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with a legal professional about your situation.