4 Talcum Powder Lawsuits Transferred into MDL
The talcum powder multidistrict litigation (MDL) in New Jersey continues to grow, as four more lawsuits are transferred into the mass tort. Plaintiffs in the MDL allege that genital use of talcum powder contributed to ovarian cancer. Johnson & Johnson allegedly failed to warn of the risks. The company has been hit with several multimillion dollar verdicts involving talcum powder, with the most recent case totaling $110 million.
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.
According to court documents, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) transferred four lawsuits from two states into the MDL in New Jersey on May 31, 2017. Three cases are being transferred from the Eastern District of Missouri and one is being transferred from the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Talcum powder lawsuits are filed on behalf of women who used J&J’s talcum powder products, including Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower. Plaintiffs allege that use of these products in the genital region increased the risk of ovarian cancer and that J&J failed to warn of the risks.
An MDL is a type of mass tort where similar lawsuits are grouped together in one court. Consolidating cases in this manner makes the legal process more efficient because it streamlines litigation and eliminates duplicate discovery. Lawsuits in a mass tort remain separate and plaintiffs are processed individually. This is different from a class action lawsuit, where one complaint represents an entire group of plaintiffs against a common defendant.
In addition to the MDL, J&J faces roughly 1,000 talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits in St. Louis, Missouri before Judge Rex Burlison.
J&J Talcum Powder Verdicts
Parker Waichman comments that J&J has been hit with several multimillion dollar verdicts in the talcum powder litigation. Most recently, jurors awarded $110 million in May 2017. The plaintiff is a Virginia woman who used talcum powder products for 40 years. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012, allegedly due to using Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower. Like other talcum powder plaintiffs, she alleges that the fine particles can travel up the female reproductive tract and promote cancer-causing changes in the ovaries over time.
At trial, jurors were asked to punish J&J for its “reprehensible” actions. Plaintiff’s attorneys said that punitive damages should be substantial enough for J&J to feel, noting that it is a $70 billion company.
According to Law360, the jury found for the plaintiff on all counts, including conspiracy, breach of implied warranty and negligence. J&J, its Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. unit and talc supplier Imerys Talc America Inc. were all found liable.
The award consisted of $5.4 million in compensatory damages. J&J was hit with $66 million in punitive damages while J&J Consumer was hit with $39 million in punitive damages and talc supplier Imerys was hit with $50,000 in punitive damages. The jury awarded punitive damages as an additional form of punishment when they feel behavior warrants it. In returning the verdict, jurors determined the two J&J companies to be 99 percent at fault for the plaintiff’s injuries, and Imerys to be one percent at fault. The trial took place over 17 days.
Dr. Daniel Cramer, a Harvard physician who has published research on the link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer, testified on behalf of the plaintiffs. He said he concluded with “medical and scientific certainty” that using talcum powder in the genital region caused the plaintiff’s cancer.
This is not the only multimillion dollar verdict issued in the talcum powder ovarian cancer litigation. In 2016, juries handed down three consecutive verdicts against J&J, awarding verdicts of $72 million, $55 million and $70 million. In the fourth trial, jurors found for J&J.
J&J is being sued over talcum powder products in state and federal courts nationwide. A filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) shows that J&J is facing at least 3,100 talcum powder product liability lawsuits alleging ovarian cancer.
Talcum Powder Ovarian Cancer Lawsuit Background
Talc, the main component of talcum powder, is a mineral composed of magnesium, silicon and oxygen. Talcum powder is a common ingredient in many personal hygiene and cosmetic products, such as body and facial powders. Talcum powder products absorb excess moisture and reduce friction. It is used as a baby powder to prevent diaper rash. Some women also use talcum powder as a feminine hygiene product when sprinkled on sanitary napkins, underwear or the genital region.
Plaintiffs in the talcum powder litigation allege that genital use of talc increases the risk of ovarian cancer. Lawsuits site studies published since the 1970s suggesting an increased risk, and allege that J&J should have updated the warning label on these products to warn consumers. For example, in 1971 researchers found talc particles embedded in ovarian tumors.
Researchers continue to investigate the relationship between talcum powder use and ovarian cancer. Recently, the European Journal of Cancer Prevention published a study showing a small, but statistically significant link between talcum powder use and ovarian cancer. The study was a meta-analysis, meaning researchers used data from previously published studies to identify a common effect.
Most talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits were filed individually. However, court records indicate that J&J is facing class action lawsuits as well. One class action represents 81 plaintiffs who allege that ovarian cancer is caused by “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.”
Filing a Talcum Powder Lawsuit
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).