JJ Ordered to Pay $72 Million in Lawsuit Alleging Talc Caused Ovarian CancerFeb 24, 2016
Following a three week trial considering whether J&J talc-based products led to ovarian cancer, a St. Louis jury returned a $72 million verdict against the company. The plaintiff was awarded $10 million in actual damages and $62 million in punitive damages; the jury found that J&J's talc-based products caused the plaintiff's ovarian cancer. No award was issued against Imerys, the mining company who began warning J&J of cancer risks associated with raw talc in 2005. Hon. Rex Burlison presided over the litigation in Saint Louis Missouri state court.
Jurors issued the award to the family of a 62-year-old woman who died of ovarian cancer. The lawsuit filed on her behalf alleged her daily use of J&J talc-based products contributed to her cancer. Prior to her death, the plaintiff said in a deposition that she was "raised on" J&J's Baby Powder and Shower to Shower. Before being diagnosed with cancer, she used it on a daily basis. The lawsuit alleges the talcum powder was a contributing factor in the plaintiff's ovarian cancer, and not necessarily the sole cause.
Allegedly, J&J failed to warn about the risks of cancer linked with its talc products. The company is accused of continually marketing talcum powder for feminine hygiene even after learning of studies linking the product to ovarian cancer.
According to the lawsuit, some studies have shown that talcum powder can travel into the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries when used in the genital area. In 2013, the journal Cancer Prevention and Research published a study showing that use of talc for feminine hygiene was associated with a 20 to 30 percent increased risk of ovarian cancer compared to those who did not. Another study published recently in Epidemiology showed that talc was linked to a 33 percent increased risk of cancer. Women who used the product longer were subject to greater risk.
The most common source of talc-based products is baby powder, used to prevent and treat rashes. Some women also use talcum powder for personal hygiene; products such as J&J's "Shower to Shower" are marketed for this purpose. There are some 1,200 lawsuits nationwide alleging that talcum powder led to ovarian cancer.