Johnson & Johnson currently faces thousands of lawsuits filed on behalf of women who claim that the company’s iconic Baby Powder caused them to develop ovarian cancer. Many of these women used Baby Powder for years, unaware that the talc in Baby Powder could be contaminated with asbestos. Asbestos is a mineral fiber linked to several different types of cancer, including ovarian cancer and mesothelioma. Because talc and asbestos are often found near one another in the earth, talc can easily become contaminated with asbestos while being mined. While talc itself is not believed to cause adverse health effects, asbestos is a known carcinogen. There is extensive research showing that exposure to asbestos in talc products may increase consumers’ risk of cancer. The majority of the 16,000-plus talcum powder lawsuits pending against Johnson & Johnson include ovarian cancer claims and the fate of the lawsuits in the federal MDL hinged on Judge Wolfson’s decision in the Daubert hearings.
A Missouri appeals court has reduced a to $2.1 billion but refused to toss punitive damages altogether, concluding that the evidence at trial showed Johnson & Johnson’s conduct was “outrageous because of evil motive or reckless indifference.”
On June 23rd, The Eastern District Court of Appeals, in an agreed with the underlying St. Louis verdict and noted that significant monetary damages were needed. “Because Defendants are large, multi-billion-dollar corporations, we believe a large amount of punitive damages is necessary to have a deterrent effect in this case,” the court wrote.
According to the court, “The harm suffered by Plaintiffs was physical, not just economic. Plaintiffs each developed and suffered from ovarian cancer. Plaintiffs underwent chemotherapy, hysterectomies, and countless other surgeries.“
According to a 2018 article from , Johnson & Johnson’s raw talc and talcum powder tested positive for trace amounts of asbestos on several occasions between 1971 and 2003. The article cites numerous internal company memos, reports, and documents disclosed during talc lawsuits that suggest that the company knew of the danger.
In addition to being linked with ovarian cancer, there is ongoing litigation that claims industrial or cosmetic talc contaminated by asbestos led to mesothelioma. As of April 2018, juries had awarded more than $150 million in talcum powder mesothelioma claims.
Talc related lawsuits are ongoing. If you have developed a form of cancer due to use or exposure of talcum powder, please submit a form to get in touch with a legal representative.
People who filed these cases claim inhalation of talcum powder led them to develop mesothelioma and lung disease. Asbestos is the main cause of mesothelioma, but some lawsuits argue that with or without asbestos, talc can also lead to the disease. Plaintiffs cite studies that prove the association between talc and mesothelioma, mainly one by Hull published in 2002, according to Claims & Litigation Management Alliance. The study found that talc miners and millers in upstate New York developed mesothelioma from talc even without asbestos contamination.
By the early 1970s, asbestos was widely recognized as the primary cause of mesothelioma among workers involved in producing it and in industries that used it in their products. In 1972, President Richard Nixon’s OSHA issued its first rule, setting limits on workplace exposure to asbestos dust.
A recent ruling from a federal judge in New Jersey has cleared the way for thousands of talcum powder cancer lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson to proceed. The ruling, handed down by U.S. District Judge Freda L. Wolfson, allows testimony from plaintiffs’ medical and scientific experts, including specialists in occupational and environmental health, cancer prevention research and gynecologic oncology. Johnson & Johnson had hoped to exclude the expert testimony from the talcum powder trials by raising a Daubert motion and challenging the validity of the testimony. Had Wolfson sided with Johnson & Johnson and ruled out the plaintiffs’ expert testimony, the decision would have eliminated more than 16,000 lawsuits currently pending in the talcum powder multidistrict litigation (MDL). By permitting the expert witnesses to testify, Judge Wolfson has cleared the way for the talcum powder cases to proceed to trial.