Many American women routinely saw Johnson & Johnson (J & J) talcum powder ads while growing up. Those advertisements claimed that regular use of this powder could help girls and women reduce excess moisture and chafing between their legs — and help neutralize any negative body odors near their genitals. Using talc powder became a common ritual after baths and showers. Women also saw that once they gave birth to babies, talcum powder could help them defeat their child’s diaper rash.
Sadly, this positive view of J & J talcum powder began to change during subsequent decades as many women began asking serious questions about whether ovarian and other cancers they had developed were directly linked to their long-term use of talcum powders containing the carcinogen asbestos.
As of 2020, thousands of American women have filed lawsuits against Johnson and Johnson due to the medical consequences they believe they have suffered after using J & J’s talcum powder. Extremely large settlements in some of these cases have now played a role in Johnson & Johnson’s decision to no longer sell baby powder derived from talc in North America.
What follows is a closer look at two successful talcum powder lawsuits, including a recent one that resulted in a $2.1 billion award in damages going to a group of women in Missouri. There is also a brief overview of key statistics and facts indicating that Johnson & Johnson first began secretly worrying about the asbestos contamination in its products over 50 years ago.
What exactly is the substance talc – often used when making talcum baby powder?
Talc is a mineral that contains magnesium, hydrogen, oxygen, and silicon. American product
manufacturers use it while making such consumer goods as eye make-up and baby powder since it helps absorb moisture.
During recent lawsuits, Johnson & Johnson internal memos were produced. They clearly indicate that the well-established company has been wondering since at least the 1960s whether consumers were suffering any harm due to their talc products – because J & J knew they contained the dangerous chemical asbestos. It’s now known that as early as 1958, the mineral asbestos was linked to ovarian cancer. When you mine for talc, asbestos is almost always nearby.
Are any alternative talc powders available to North America consumers?
Yes. Consumers can purchase baby powder made with cornstarch. You can also find various other alternative powders, along with “recipes for baby powder” online. Although some of these similar products may prove useful, their overall benefits and risks have not been determined by any formal consumer safety groups or agencies.
Important rulings, damages or awards related to plaintiffs’ talcum powder cases
April 2020. S. District Judge Freda Wolfson – who is managing a multidistrict litigation case involving talcum powder and Johnson & Johnson — ruled that the plaintiffs’ proposed expert witnesses are fully qualified to testify in the case. This is the first time that a federal judge has ruled on the nature of the scientific evidence being presented in these types of cases.
May 2020. A Missouri appeals court ordered J & J (and one of its subsidiaries) to pay a group of women $2.1 billion for the ovarian cancers they had developed and claimed were due to their use of the company’s various talcum products (including baby powder). Although this amount indicated a large slash in the $4.69 billion earlier awarded to the same group of women at a lower court level, it is still viewed as a major victory for the plaintiffs. The $2.1 billion was awarded for both compensatory and punitive
August 2017. A California jury awarded Eva Echeverria $417 million in damages in response to her lawsuit alleging that her ovarian cancer was directly caused by her use of Johnson & Johnson baby powder for many decades. The plaintiff’s lawyers relied upon various studies linking the known risks to consumer health when marketing talc products
that can cause cancer. They also reprimanded J & J for not providing any written warnings to consumers about the company’s products. However, a new trial has been granted in this case that could either change the amount of the award or negate the liability of the defendants.
Additional facts and statistics related to talcum powder products (and cancer)
A few published studies indicate that women have a 20 to 30 percent higher chance of developing ovarian cancer if they used talcum powder for long time periods.
A 2009 Harvard study referenced the strong link between the use of talcum powder and ovarian cancer. It stated that women who have used the powder for long stretches of time have as much as a 40% higher chance of developing ovarian cancer.
2019 Johnson & Johnson recall. This was ordered by FDA (Food and Drug Administration) investigators after they discovered asbestos in a bottle of baby powder purchased from a retailer online. (J & J later claimed its own subsequent tests refuted this finding).
Talc is classified as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer – a group directly associated with the World Health Organization.
Legal arguments are keeping up with new evidence. Although earlier cases had plaintiffs’ lawyers emphasizing that talc was a clear cause of ovarian cancer, current cases claim that it is the asbestos contamination in the talc that is the biggest danger. They further argue that even “trace amounts” of asbestos can cause cancer.
Talc is used in a wide variety of consumer make up products. They include eye shadow, blush, foundation, lipstick, and mascara.
Some women who have used J & J talcum powder for many years have filed lawsuits after developing mesothelioma – a rare and “vicious cancer” that develops in a patient’s abdomen and lungs.
What basic requirements must a plaintiff meet for our firm to file a talcum powder case?
You must have been at least 21 years old at the time of your cancer diagnosis
Your diagnosis and treatment must have occurred during the past 10 years
Your usage of Johnson & Johnson talcum powder must have occurred before you entered your menopausal years
You must be able to truthfully testify that you regularly applied Johnson & Johnson talcum powder (or another talc product made by Shower to Shower) to your genital area for at least two years prior to being diagnosed with cancer (or recognizing signs you might have cancer)
If you are bringing a wrongful death claim, the party must have died no more than two years ago
You are not already represented by another lawyer or law firm
Every woman who extensively used Johnson & Johnson talcum powder in the past and has since
developed ovarian cancer, mesothelioma or another related disease should give serious thought to filing a claim. That is the only way that appropriate damages can be awarded to her — if the evidence in her case fully supports her claim.
If you have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer or another form of cancer often linked to the use of talcum powder, you need to immediately contact our New York City talcum powder injury law firm. We will carefully investigate the facts of your case and then review all your medical records. Our firm will then fight hard to win the maximum compensation available on your behalf. Our goal is to see all our clients receive generous damages to cover all their lost wages, pain and suffering, medical expenses, and other losses.