Talcum Powder Lawsuit

Link Between Talc Products and Ovarian Cancer

baby powder talcumPublic health advocates have called asbestos in talcum baby powder “the crime of the century.” Johnson & Johnson faces more than 2,500 lawsuits by women and their families alleging that executives failed to disclose known safety concerns regarding their Baby Powder and Shower To Shower products that put users at risk for developing ovarian cancer. J&J points to large-scale studies that support the safety of talc powder and seeks to overturn the handful of multi-million-dollar verdicts awarded to plaintiffs.

Does baby powder cause cancer?

The talcum powder and ovarian cancer link has been established by several studies:

  • The 1971 study “Talc and the carcinoma of the ovary and cervix” found talc inside 75 percent of ovarian tumors.
  • In 1982, the New York Times suggested that Johnson & Johnson were aware of a study that found women were three times as likely to develop ovarian cancer if they used talcum powder for feminine hygiene.
  • One analysis of 11,933 subjects across 16 observational studies published in the journal Anticancer Research in 2003 found a 30 percent increased risk of ovarian cancer with the regular use of cosmetic talc.
  • In February 2013, research published in the medical journal Cancer Prevention Research identified a 30 percent higher risk of ovarian cancer after analyzing 8,525 cases of women who used talc body powder and 9,859 controls who did not.
  • Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston has found the use of talcum powder increased the risk of developing ovarian cancer by a third, although the risk is “modifiable” and dependent upon factors like weight, menopausal hormone use, and smoking habits.

Health organizations have been slow to act due to conflicting evidence:

  • The American Cancer Society website explains: “Studies of personal use of talcum powder have had mixed results, although there is some suggestion of a possible increase in ovarian cancer risk.”
  • The U.S. National Toxicology Program has “not fully reviewed” talc as a possible carcinogen.
  • The WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer says hygienic talc is “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”
  • The FDA admits they have received adverse reports regarding talc cancer, but maintain that studies “have not conclusively demonstrated such a link.” They say they will “continue to monitor” the situation.

To some industry insiders, the evidence for a link between baby powder and cancer is convincing. In the case of Gloria Ristesund, a woman who won $55 million after her ovarian cancer diagnosis led to several surgeries including a hysterectomy, lawyers produced damning internal memos produced by a whistleblower within Johnson & Johnson. A 1997 memo from a company medical consultant said that “anybody who denies” the risk of hygienic talc use and ovarian cancer is “denying the obvious in the face of all evidence to the contrary” – much like those who denied the link between smoking and cancer.

First Johnson & Johnson baby powder lawsuit goes to court

Diane Berg of Sioux Falls, South Dakota was the first talc lawsuit plaintiff to have her day in court. In 2009, the 49-year-old physician’s assistant brought her lawsuit against J&J after being diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer two year prior. She believed her 30-year use of talcum powder for feminine hygiene led to the hysterectomy and six months of painful chemotherapy she suffered. J&J offered her an out-of-court settlement of $1.3 million if she agreed to sign a confidentiality clause and drop all public accusations. She opted to forego the settlement and blow the whistle instead. Her case went to court in 2013, long after her cancer had gone into remission, and the South Dakota jury found J&J negligent, but couldn’t reach a unanimous decision about just compensation, so no damages were awarded. “I’m so relieved that the issue is finally getting the attention it deserves,” Ms. Berg wrote in the NY Post.

Recent talcum powder lawsuit settlements and verdicts

Some talc settlements and verdicts include:

  • February 2016: The family of a deceased Alabama woman received $72 million in damages.
  • October 2016: A St. Louis jury awarded $70 million to a California woman living with ovarian cancer since 2012.
  • May 2016: A St. Louis jury awarded a South Dakota cancer survivor $55 million.
  • March 2017: J&J wins a trial when a St. Louis jury finds the cancer/baby powder link to be “lacking in evidence.”
  • May 2017: A Missouri jury awarded a Virginia woman $110 million for suffering related to ovarian cancer.

New limits placed on liability lawsuits

In a shocking move in June 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court’s Justice Alito ruled that lawsuits can only be brought against corporations in the state where the defendant is located or the location where the alleged harm occurred. This action affects consolidated mass torts and class actions across the country. Within hours of the Supreme Court ruling, Missouri Circuit Judge Rex Burlison declared a mistrial after two weeks of court proceedings for two out-of-state families suing Johnson & Johnson for talcum powder ovarian cancer deaths. Johnson & Johnson has filed appeals for prior verdicts, but it is unclear what will happen to them or the other 1,000 similar baby powder lawsuits on file and awaiting trial in Missouri.

Get an experienced talcum powder lawyer in Louisiana

Bart Bernard is a distinguished personal injury attorney with law offices in Baton Rouge and Lafayette, Louisiana. Over the past decade, his track record of favorable verdicts has earned him membership in the Elite Lawyers of America and the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum.

Though the evidence that talc manufacturers had knowledge of the dangers of their products and negligently kept that information from the public is compelling, the case is not a slam-dunk. It takes an experienced litigator and a vast network of respected medical professionals willing to testify on a patient’s behalf to draw the irrefutable connection between an individual patient’s cancer and the use of baby powder. Bart Bernard is currently assisting those who believe they have been injured by long-term use of talc products.

If you or a loved one has suffered from crushing medical bills and adverse health after years of using talcum powder, contact dangerous drug attorney Bart Bernard for a free case review. All legal services are fee-free unless he wins money on your behalf.

Additional "talcum powder cancer lawsuit" resources:

  1. St. Louis Today – St. Louis Jury Awards Millions To Woman Claiming Baby Powder Caused Cancer. http://www.stltoday.com/business/local/st-louis-jury-awards-million-to-woman-claiming-baby-powder/article_6bfaef72-4dc6-50a3-af24-fe91944b79e6.html
  2. USA Today – Baby powder lawsuit: Woman with ovarian cancer awarded $110M from Johnson & Johnson, https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2017/05/05/johnson-johnson-talc-verdict/101320524/
  3. AP – Missouri jury awards $72M in Johnson & Johnson cancer suit http://bigstory.ap.org/article/5d39bd418fcb427aa2d154a4b0093efd/st-louis-jury-awards-72m-johnson-johnson-cancer-suit
  4. USA Today – Studies mixed on link between talcum powder, ovarian cancer http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/nation-now/2016/05/03/johnson-johnson-baby-powder-talc-ovarian-cancer-case-55-million/83865636/
  5. Journal of Anticancer Research – Perineal application of cosmetic talc and risk of invasive epithelial ovarian cancer: a meta-analysis of 11,933 subjects from sixteen observational studies. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12820486
  6. Medical News Daily – Talcum Powder May Cause Ovarian Cancer If Regularly Applied To Genitals And Sanitary Napkins, http://www.medicaldaily.com/talcum-powder-ovarian-cancer-risk-factors-376717
  7. American Cancer Society – Talcum Powder and Cancer, http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/othercarcinogens/athome/talcum-powder-and-cancer
  8. The Scientist – Can Talc Cause Cancer? http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/45493/title/Can-Talc-Cause-Cancer-/
  9. NY Post – J&J Hid The Dangers of Talc and I Helped Blow the Whistle http://nypost.com/2016/03/02/johnson-johnson-hid-the-dangers-of-talc-and-i-helped-blow-the-whistle

Last modified: May 14, 2018


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