J&J Faces Lawsuits Over Baby Powder, Shower-to-Shower
Talcum powder litigation continues to grow against Johnson & Johnson. Plaintiffs allege that talcum powder products, including Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower, contribute to ovarian cancer when used for feminine hygiene. Last year, talcum powder litigation produced three multimillion dollar verdicts in favor of plaintiffs. Talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits allege that J&J failed to warn consumers about the risks.
The product liability attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP have decades of experience representing clients in lawsuits over allegedly defective or dangerous products. The firm, which regularly provides talcum powder lawsuit updates, continues to offer free legal consultations to individuals with questions about filing a talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuit.
Talcum powder is used in many cosmetic and personal hygiene products, including adult facial and body powders. It is also used in baby powder to prevent diaper rash. Talc-based products reduce friction by absorbing moisture. Some women regularly use talcum powder in the genital region for feminine hygiene, such as in the underwear or on sanitary napkins.
Talc and ovarian cancer lawsuits allege that the fine talcum powder particles can travel up the female reproductive tract and reach the ovaries, where they can accumulate and allegedly trigger changes that promote cancerous growth. Plaintiffs in the litigation cite various studies assessing the link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer. Lawsuits allege J&J should have placed a warning on its talcum powder products to inform consumers about the potential risks.
Court records indicate that talcum powder ovarian cancer claims continue to be filed. J&J submitted a recent filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) showing that the company has been named as a defendant in 3,100 product liability lawsuits alleging that talcum powder caused ovarian cancer.
The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) also established a federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) for talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits. Cases have been consolidated in the U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey. According to court documents, there are 134 talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits consolidated into the MDL as of Feb. 15, 2017. The JPML creates MDLs when there are a growing number of lawsuits with common questions of fact. Transferring talcum powder lawsuits into an MDL helps make the legal process more efficient because it streamlines pretrial proceedings, such as the discovery phase and expert witness testimony.
Lawsuits in an MDL remain separate, unlike in a class action lawsuit. In a class action lawsuit, multiple plaintiffs are represented by a single complaint. The plaintiff class allege being wronged by a common defendant in the same manner.
The litigation continues to move forward, as court records show that parties have been meeting on a weekly basis. According to a letter submitted to the court on Mar. 3, the parties have already agreed on a Protective Order. Both sides are also discussing ESI protocol, Preservation Order and alternative options to a Plaintiff Fact Sheet.
The European Journal of Cancer Prevention published a recent study suggesting a small, but statistically significant link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer. The study was conducted as a meta-analysis, meaning researchers used data from previously published studies to draw new conclusions and identify a trend.
More than two dozen studies were included in the meta-analysis, showing that use of talcum powder increased the risk of ovarian cancer by 20 percent. Researchers analyzed data from 302,705 women with ovarian cancer. Dr. Paolo Boffetta, associate director for cancer prevention at The Tisch Cancer Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital and a former chief of environmental cancer epidemiology with the World Health Organization, led the study.
“Overall, it is about a 20 percent higher risk for women who say they used talc, compared to women who say they did not use it,” Boffetta said, according to Newsday. However, he cautioned that, while there is a statistically significant association, the study does not prove a causal relationship. “It would be premature to conclude that talc use causes ovarian cancer,” the cancer expert said.
Plaintiffs in the litigation allege that studies in the past have linked talcum powder to ovarian cancer, but J&J has not conveyed this information to consumers. Among other things, plaintiffs cite findings from 1971 where researchers found talc particles embedded in ovarian tumors. Complaints also cite a study published in 1982, in which Harvard researchers found that genital use of talcum powder was associated with an increased risk of ovarian cancer.
Talcum Powder Lawsuits and Plaintiff Awards
Parker Waichman comments that talcum powder ovarian cancer plaintiffs won three large, multimillion awards in 2016. The first verdict was handed down in February 2016, when jurors awarded $72 million to the family of a woman who died of ovarian cancer. A second jury found for plaintiffs in May, producing a $55 million talcum powder verdict.
The most recent verdict totaled $70 million. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a California woman who was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer after using talcum powder for over 45 years. She alleges that genital use of talcum powder caused her cancer and that J&J failed to warn about the risks. The verdict consisted of $65 million in punitive damages. The case was also the first time that talc supplier Talc America was hit with a verdict; jurors ordered the company to pay $2.3 million in punitive damages.
Punitive damages are the monetary awards that exceed simply compensating a plaintiff for their injuries. Juries award punitive damages when they believe that the liable party’s actions warrant additional punishment, such as if a company engaged in malice.
In the third talcum powder ovarian cancer verdict, one juror commented to Bloomberg on the decision that, “It seemed like Johnson & Johnson didn’t pay attention,”
“It seemed like they didn’t care.”
Both class action lawsuits and individual lawsuits have been filed over talcum powder ovarian cancer claims, although most plaintiffs file their cases individually. Court documents show that one talcum powder class action lawsuit represents 81 plaintiffs. The lawsuit alleges that that ovarian cancer is caused by the “unreasonably dangerous and defective nature of talcum powder and [Johnson & Johnson’s] wrongful and negligent conduct in the research, development, testing, manufacture, production, promotion, distribution, marketing, and sale of talcum powder.”
Questions about Talcum Powder Lawsuits?
If you or someone you know wants to learn more about filing a talcum powder lawsuit, contact the personal injury attorneys at Parker Waichman today. Our firm offers free, no-obligation case evaluations. For more information, fill out our online form or call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).