4th Talcum Powder Ovarian Cancer Case to be Tried in Court. The talcum powder ovarian cancer litigation is underway in court, as another lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson heads to trial. It will be the fourth case of its kind to be heard by jurors, following three multimillion dollar verdicts issued in 2016. Plaintiffs allege that genital use of J&J talcum powder products, such as Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower, caused ovarian cancer. Lawsuits filed on their behalf cite studies linking talcum powder to ovarian cancer and allege that J&J failed to disclose 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 products contain talc, a mineral mainly composed of magnesium, silicon and oxygen. It is an ingredient in many cosmetic and personal hygiene products, including baby powder and adult facial and body powders, because it absorbs excess moisture and reduces friction. For example, it helps prevent diaper rash in babies. Some women also use talcum powder regularly in the genital region for feminine hygiene.
According to Courtroom View Network (CVN), a plaintiff’s attorney suffered a medical issue during opening statements, prompting a Missouri state court judge to order selection of a new jury. Opening statements may begin as early as Feb. 9th or 10th, CVN reports.
The plaintiff in the case is a 56-year-old woman who used talcum powder in the genital region for 36 years. She developed ovarian cancer, allegedly due to her talcum powder use. J&J is accused of failing to adequately label its talcum powder products to warn of the cancer risks, but the company maintains that the plaintiff’s cancer is unrelated to its talc-based products.
In St. Louis alone, there are almost 1,000 talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits pending. Additionally, lawsuits continue to mount in talcum powder litigation consolidated in New Jersey state and federal court; cases are also centralized in Los Angeles state court. CVN reports that the first California talcum powder trial has been scheduled for July.
In 2016, juries handed down massive talcum powder verdicts totaling $72 million, $55 million and $70 million.
Talcum powder plaintiffs allege that J&J ignored studies linking the product to an increased risk of ovarian cancer. Complaints cite, for example, 1971 findings where researchers discussed talc particles embedded in ovarian tumors. Plaintiffs also refer to another study suggesting a link, published in 1982. Lawsuits allege that J&J should have placed a warning on its talcum powder products so women could make a fully informed decision about whether to use it for feminine hygiene. Plaintiffs claim that, based on studies cited in the complaints, the fine talc particles can travel up the female reproductive tract.
U.S. District Judge Freda L. Wolfson is overseeing the talcum powder multidistrict litigation (MDL) in New Jersey. The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) establishes MDLs when there a number of lawsuits with common questions of fact. It is a type of mass tort where similar lawsuits are brought together in one court before one judge. Consolidating cases in this manner helps make complex litigation more efficient and faster. Pre-trial proceedings, such as the discovery phase and testimonies, for example, can apply to all cases in the MDL.
MDLs are distinct from class action lawsuits, where one complaint represents a number of plaintiffs (referred to as the “class”). All class members are treated as one plaintiff. In an MDL, plaintiffs are treated individually even though they are grouped together in one court.
J&J is facing talcum powder class action lawsuits in addition to individual injury claims, court records show. One complaint was filed on behalf of 81 plaintiffs alleging that cancer was 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.”
New Study Links Talcum Powder to Increased Risk of Cancer
Some recent research supports a link between talcum powder use and ovarian cancer, Parker Waichman comments. In January 2017, the European Journal of Cancer Prevention published a study showing that use of talcum powder in the genital region was associated with a 20 percent increased risk. The study was a meta-analysis, meaning researchers used previously published data to identify a trend among multiple studies.
The meta-analysis involved data from 24 case-control studies and three cohort studies, including 302,705 women with ovarian cancer. The study was led by 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.
Dr. Boffetta said to Newsday, “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,” The findings, however, are only correlational. The study does not prove a causal relationship between talcum powder use and ovarian cancer. He cautioned, “It would be premature to conclude that talc use causes ovarian cancer,” Researchers also do not have a mechanism by which talcum powder causes cancer.
In a summary of research findings, Newsday notes “Studies suggest some women regularly use talc-containing powders for feminine hygiene purposes, but doctors are cautioning them to avoid the products.”
The study gives another reason for doctors to recommend caution when using talcum powder for feminine hygiene. “The whole issue of talcum powder is seen as a possible agent. We don’t have strong links. Anything that can get in the peritoneal cavity can increase the risk,” said Dr. Eva Chalas, chief of gynecologic oncology and vice-chair of obstetrics and gynecology at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, according to Newsday. “We discourage patients from using anything that increases irritation or inflammation.”