Number of Talcum Powder Lawsuits Against Johnson & Johnson Continues to Rise
Talc is the softest mineral on earth and its ability to absorb odors and moisture make it the primary ingredient in a wide range of products, including cosmetics, infant powders and contraceptive devices. Because it helps keep skin dry and helps prevent rashes and chafing, a significant number of women also use it on their inner thighs or in the genital area.
According to more than 1,000 women and their families, however, talcum powder is dangerous and increases the risk of ovarian cancer and are suing Johnson & Johnson (J & J), the principal manufacturer of talc-based products in the U.S., and Imerys Talc America, the largest talc supplier in the country and J & J’s only source of talcum. The claim states the two companies knew about the link between talcum powder and an increased risk of ovarian cancer and breached consumers’ trust by failing to warn about it.
The first trial against Johnson & Johnson took place in 2013, and found the company negligent, but did not award the plaintiff any damages. In February 2016, however, a Missouri jury awarded the family of a woman who died of ovarian cancer $10 million in compensatory damages and $62 million in punitive damages. Additionally, in May 2016, another Missouri jury awarded a woman $5 million in compensatory damages and $50 million in punitive damages. Both juries determined Johnson & Johnson was liable for negligence, conspiracy, and the failure to warn consumers about a serious health risk.
Studies linking long-term genital talc use with an increased risk of ovarian cancer date back to 1971. In 2006, the World Health Organization declared that cosmetic-grade talc is a potential carcinogen, at which time Luzenac (Imerys’ predecessor) and Johnson & Johnson both brushed off the significance of the description. Behind the scenes, Luzenac discontinued funding of efforts to prove talc’s safety and added a warning to its product regarding talc as a possible risk factor for ovarian cancer. Johnson & Johnson, however, has not placed any warnings with respect to talc and ovarian cancer on its products and continues to maintain talc is safe to use.
Regardless of whether talc causes cancer, there is enough evidence to raise concerns. The verdicts against Johnson & Johnson reflect the belief in a company’s responsibility to warn consumers of potential health and safety issues connected with its products. Corporate documents presented as evidence during the two trials show the company purposefully obscured important health information from regulators and talc users. Thus, rather than allowing consumers the right to choose whether to accept an increased risk of cancer when using talcum powder, J & J ignored consumer concerns and unilaterally decided there was no risk.
Thousands of women who regularly used talcum powder and developed ovarian cancer are coming forward to seek compensation on top of the more than 1,200 lawsuits currently pending against Johnson & Johnson. If you or a loved one believes the use of talcum powder contributed to ovarian cancer, contact experienced New Jersey talc attorneys at Lomurro Law for a consultation and case review. Contact us online or call 732-482-9285.