Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder (Baby Powder) was launched in 1894. Reuters has reported that as early as 1971, J&J’s talc and powders would sometimes test positive for tiny amounts of asbestos. Professionals associated with the company, including doctors and scientists, worried over how to address the problem but failed to disclose it to the public.

Researchers have known for more than 30 years the link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer. In 1971, scientists in Wales pointed to a possible connection between the dusting of female genitals with talcum powder and ovarian cancer. They discovered particles of talc embedded in ovarian and cervical tumors, and detailed findings in The Lancelet journal. Also, in 1982, a peer-reviewed medical journal concluded that 10% of all ovarian cancer diagnoses per year were related to genital talc. The Johnson & Johnson lawsuit attorneys at Stephens & Stephens can help you get the compensation you are owed if you have been harmed by these products.

J&J faces lawsuits

In October 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) completed a year-long study of talc-containing cosmetic products. After detecting asbestos in several of the products, the FDA worked with manufacturers, including J&J, on recalls of some of the products that contained traces of asbestos. Later in that same month, J&J recalled a single lot of Johnson’s Baby Powder.

By April 2020, J&J was named in thousands of lawsuits alleging a link between the company’s talc products and cancer diagnoses. And as of July 2022, the company had nearly 38,000 cases related to asbestos in talc products and had paid approximately $4 billion in settlements, verdicts and defense costs.

The company now faces over 38,000 lawsuits from consumers and their survivors claiming its talc products caused mesothelioma and ovarian cancer to regular users due to contamination. Some of the ongoing cases have been consolidated into the “Talcum Powder MDL.”

So the foundation of the Johnson & Johnson talc lawsuit is that they knew they were selling a product that contained a cancer-causing agent and were aware of this for decades and did not warn their customers of the grave risks of the product. The company refers to research into the matter as inconclusive, thus does not include an ovarian cancer warning on its talcum powder products.

On August 12, 2022 Johnson & Johnson announced that it will no longer sell products containing talcum powder by the end of 2022. However, it discontinuing distribution in the U.S. and Canada and continued selling talc products internationally. As from 2023 the company also changed baby powder products from talcum to cornstarch.

Talc-containing products implicated in ovarian cancer lawsuits include the following:

  • Johnson’s Baby Powder
  • Shower to Shower
  • Gold Bond No Mess Powder Spray
  • Gold Bond Body Powder
  • Gold Bond Extra Strength Body Powder
  • Old Spice powder
  • Suppliers of talcum powder, as well as retailers including Target, Walmart, CVS and Walgreens, have all been successfully sued.
  • Talc product companies named in lawsuits include:
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Colgate-Palmolive
  • Imerys Talc North America
  • Whittaker, Clark & Daniels
  • Vanderbilt Minerals

J&J sets aside $3.9 billion for “talc-related reserves and certain settlements

In January of 2021, Johnson & Johnson set aside $3.9 billion dollars for “talc-related reserves and certain settlements”. Settlement amounts and verdicts can vary in product liability- a survey of recent verdicts shows that the value of a case averages at $355,600,000. 

In Feb 2023 Congressmen Steve Cohen (D-Ten.) called for a federal investigation into the healthcare costs associated with Johnson & Johnson talcum powder products. In a letter to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) Rep. Cohen claimed that J&J knew for years that asbestos in its talc products was harmful but did nothing about it. Cohen wants the investigation to determine how much federal tax dollars have been spent on healthcare claims related to talcum powder injuries.

J&J file for bankruptcy denied

It follows that the cases had been on hold since October 2021, when the company created a subsidiary, called LTL Management, which would be liable for those claims. Days after it was created, LTL filed for bankruptcy protection, a move that immediately faced legal challenges from plaintiffs claiming it as a way for the company to limit what it would ultimately have to pay out in the talcum-powder cases. The court expressed concern that allowing this would spark a wave of similar bankruptcy filings by financially solvent companies looking to shed litigation liabilities. For the first time in 14 months, seven new cases were added to the Talcum powder class action MDL in March 2023 bringing the total number of pending cases up to 37,522. 

On March 22, 2023 Johnson & Johnson’s bankruptcy subsidiary, LTL Management, lost a reconsideration of its bankruptcy case from the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. The court upheld its January ruling that LTL’s bankruptcy was improper. However, J&J announced its intention to ask the Third Circuit to pause the ruling for an appeal to the Supreme Court.

New judge takes over the talc cases 2023

Feb 13th 2023, A new judge, (U.S. District Judge Michael Shipp) based in Trenton, took over from Chief District Judge Freda Wolfson to oversee tens of thousands of lawsuits in New Jersey federal court against Johnson & Johnson over its talc products. He will be presiding alongside Hon. Rukhsanah L. Singh. 

The talc baby-powder-mesothelioma risk

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that develops in the lining that covers the outer surface of some of the body’s organs. Asbestos exposure is the primary risk factor for mesothelioma, accounting for up to 80 percent of all cases. Living with someone who works with asbestos may also increase an individual’s risk for developing mesothelioma because asbestos particles can travel on skin and clothing.

The mesothelium is a protective membrane that covers the lungs, abdomen, heart and testes. This tissues is made from tissue comprised of mesothelial cells. Mesothelial cells form a monolayer of specialized pavement-like cells that line the body’s serous cavities and internal organs. The primary function of this layer, termed the mesothelium, is to provide a slippery, non-adhesive and protective surface. 

Mesothelial cells react when exposed to asbestos. The asbestos fibers cause this tissue to inflame, leading to scar tissue plaques forming on the surface of the protective lining. It is within this scar tissue that malignant mesothelioma tumors begin to grow.

Plaintiffs who filed mesothelioma claims argue the inhalation of talcum powder resulted in their development of mesothelioma and lung disease. A number of lawsuits also argue that, with or without asbestos contamination, talc exposure poses significant health risks and can still lead to the disease.

The talc baby-powder-cancer risk

Baby powder is 99% talc. Talc is mined from the earth and its natural form. It is a mineral made up mainly of magnesium, silicon, and oxygen. As a powder, it absorbs moisture well and helps cut down on friction, making it useful for keeping skin dry and helping prevent rashes. Some talc contains asbestos, a substance known to cause cancers in and around the lungs when inhaled.

Contaminated talc tends to contain highly carcinogenic (cancer-causing) forms of asbestos, such as tremolite or anthophyllite. These forms are more carcinogenic than chrysotile, the most-used type of asbestos. 

As women apply talcum powder products around their genital area, specks of talcum can travel into the ovaries from the fallopian tubes. This is called transmigration. It is alleged that talcum remains trapped in a woman’s ovaries for years causing inflammation. The inflammation creates conditions that increase the likelihood of cancer growth, and long-term inflammation can eventually lead to the formation of cancerous tumors. Some litigation also includes lawsuits claiming talc-cancer links to fallopian tube cancer and peritoneal cancer.

Unlike some other types of cancer, ovarian cancer may be unaccompanied by symptoms. Many diagnoses of ovarian cancer are made only after the disease has spread to other parts of the body, such as throughout the pelvic region or into the abdomen. Once this has occurred, ovarian cancer is much more difficult to treat. 

Ovarian cancer talc research findings

Approximately 24,000 women get ovarian cancer every year in the United States. Sadly, 14,000 women die a year of cancer.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is part of the World Health Organization (WHO), classifies genital use of talc-based body powder as possibly carcinogenic (cancer-causing) to humans. Women who use baby powder products on a daily or weekly basis for an extended amount of time is at increased risk of ovarian cancer.  

20% to 30% of studies have found that talcum powder does increase the risk of developing ovarian cancer.

Studies by Dr. Daniel W. Cramer, Harvard epidemiologist, and his colleagues show that women using talcum powder on their genitals and sanitary pads were more than three times (33%) likely to get ovarian cancer. Cramer who is also the head of the Obstetrics and Gynecology Epidemiology Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston testified as a paid expert in the talcum powder lawsuits. The doctor testified that 10,000 women are likely to develop ovarian cancer annually from the use of talcum powder.

Analysis from the Ovarian Cancer Association Consortium, reported that use of talcum powder on genitals is associated with a 24 percent increased risk of ovarian cancer.

Researchers at the Tisch Cancer Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan, New York findings, published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention in 2017, suggest a 20% to 30% risk. These studies are also supported by finding from researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital who reviewed data from eight research papers involving nearly 2,000 women.

An earlier study published in the journal Anticancer Research in 2003 found use of talcum powder on female genitals increased risk of ovarian cancer by about 30 percent. 

In a study of African American women, genital powder use (Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention published the study by Joellen M. Schildkraut) found African American women who use talcum powder in their groin area have a 44 percent increased risk for ovarian cancer. Critics say that Johnson & Johnson specifically marketed talcum powder products to African American women. 

The same study shows an association between powder use and upper respiratory conditions suggests an enhanced inflammatory response may explain the association between body powder and ovarian cancer. 

How to determine if the cancer occurred from baby powder

Tissue samples and pathology reports used to diagnose the cancer and determine the best method of treatment are examined to determine if the tissues contain baby powder fibers. 

Also, medical records pathology reports are evaluated by baby powder cancer expert, to determine whether baby powder may have caused the cancer.

Who can file a baby powder lawsuit?

Women, or the family members of women, who have been diagnosed with ovarian or certain other cancers should have:

Used a Johnson & Johnson talcum powder product (Baby Powder or Shower-to-Shower) regularly for at least one year; and have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, endometroid ovarian cancer, or mesothelioma sometime in the last three years.

If you fulfill any of these criteria, reach out to our Johnson & Johnson lawsuit attorneys.

Talcum Powder Lawsuits

First lawsuit in in South Dakota District Court

A 49year old woman is diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She had dusted Johnson & Johnson baby powder between her legs every day for 30 years. Doctors found talc particles embedded in cancerous tissues removed from the woman’s body. 

Her suit alleged that talc from the Johnson & Johnson baby powder had caused her cancer and contended that the manufacturer should have warned about the link between talc and ovarian cancer on the product label.

The court did not say that talc was the cause of the woman’s cancer. However, there was enough evidence supporting the link between talc and ovarian cancer to require Johnson & Johnson to warn women about the risk. 

Talcum Powder Iconic Lawsuits

2013 First lawsuit, South Dakota District Court

A 49year old woman is diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She had dusted Johnson & Johnson baby powder between her legs and used shower to shower every day for 30 years. Three different doctors examined cancerous tissues from Ms. Berg and concluded that the presence of talc had caused her ovarian cancer to develop.

Her suit alleged that talc from the Johnson & Johnson baby powder had caused her cancer and contended that the manufacturer should have warned about the link between talc and ovarian cancer on the product label. The jury found Johnson & Johnson negligent but did not award damages to the plaintiff. In their verdict, there was enough evidence supporting the link between talc and ovarian cancer to require Johnson & Johnson to warn women about the risk. 

July 2018, Missouri a $4.7 Billion Verdict for 22 victims

A group of cases tried together results in a stunning $4.7 billion jury verdict, but was later reduced to $2.1 billion. Supreme court refused to hear an appeal.

August 2017 California $417 Million Verdict

A medical receptionist developed ovarian cancer and alleged Johnson’s Baby Powder caused her injury. A Los Angeles jury awarded her $417 million. The treating doctor testified to the causal relationship between baby powder in ovarian cancer.

February 2016, Missouri $72 Million Verdict

A woman dies of Stage 3 ovarian cancer at 62. The woman had used Johnson & Johnson baby powder for 35 years. The woman’s son brought a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson claiming that talc contributed to his mother’s cancer. He also claimed that Johnson & Johnson violated that standard of care by not putting a warning about the link between talc and ovarian cancer on its label. The jury ordered Johnson & Johnson, the woman’s family, $72 million. What is startling is that only $10 million was for actual damages. The other $62 million was for punitive damages- $1 million for every year of the woman’s life.

May 2016 Missouri $55 Million Verdict

A woman is diagnosed with ovarian cancer at age 62. She used Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based products for almost 40 years. A jury awarded her $55 million. Of the payout money awarded, $5 million was in compensation, and $50 million was in punitive damages. 

2021 Nora Daniels Failed Case

Nora Daniels lawyers have taken three cases to trial in 2021 and lost every one. But one colossal verdict turns all of that around. 

Summary some of J&J talc products’ liability cases

  • 2006, mesothelioma $3.35 million verdict case NJ
  • 2015, mesothelioma  $13 million verdict case CAL 
  • 2016 mesothelioma $18 million
  • 2016 Feb Jacqueline Fox $72 million 
  • 2016 ovarian cancer $70 Million CAL 
  • 2016 May Gloria Ristesund (ovarian cancer) $55 Million MO 
  • 2017 mesothelioma $22 Million CAL
  • 2017 Eva Escheverria Ovarian cancer $417 million CAL
  • 2018 Mesothelioma case $117 million MO
  • 2018 May Joanne Anderson was awarded $25 million
  • 2018 April Stephen Lanzo was awarded $37 million
  • 2018 mesothelioma case $1.5 million (settlement)
  • 2019 ovarian cancer $325 million (reduced to $120 million) NY
  • 2019 mesothelioma (3 plaintiffs) $37.2 million NJ
  • 2019 Teresa Leavitt Mesothelioma $30 million CAL
  • 2020 Oct ovarian cancer bulk settlement $100M for 1,000 cases
  • 2021 ovarian cancer defense verdict IL
  • 2021 Aug mesothelioma $26.5 million CAL
  • 2021 Sep ovarian 3 plaintiffs (defense verdict)
  • 2021 Sept ovarian cancer defense verdict PA

Call the Johnson & Johnson Mass Tort Attorneys From Stephens & Stephens, LLC

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