Last month Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay more than $110 million to a Virginia woman over claims that she developed ovarian cancer as a result of decades of using Johnson’s Baby Powder for feminine hygiene.
The verdict, which came out of a state court in St. Louis, is the largest so far in more than 2,400 suits against J&J for its talc-based products. Claims allege the defendant company failed to warn consumers of a potential ovarian cancer risk associated with products including J&J’s baby powder.
J&J and talc supplier Imerys Talc have already been ordered to pay a total of $197 million in damages resulting from three prior lawsuits brought against them for similar charges.
J&J and Imerys Talc were both named defendants in the most recent suit filed by Lois Slemp who is allegedly undergoing chemotherapy for ovarian cancer which spread to her liver. According to the suit, Slemp was first diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012 after using Johnson’s Baby Powder for more than four decades.
The plaintiff was awarded $5.4 million in compensatory damages and $155 in combined punitive damages against J&J and Imerys.
J&J Named in Several Baby Powder Cancer Claims
The latest J&J ovarian cancer lawsuit is one of thousands of pending lawsuits filed on behalf of plaintiffs who allege the company’s talc-based products resulted in the development of ovarian cancer. The first verdict in this litigation was reached in February 2016 when a family was awarded $72 million on behalf of a woman who allegedly died from ovarian cancer after using Johnson’s Baby Powder.
In May 2016 a different jury awarded a woman $55 million for similar cancer claims and in October 2016, a third jury awarded another plaintiff $70 million in a similar suit.
Johnson & Johnson broke its losing streak and secured its first trial win over ovarian cancer claims in March after a jury sided with the company over claims that a Tennessee woman developed ovarian cancer as a result of using J&J products.
According to reports, J&J will continue to fight talc cancer claims involving its popular products and has plans to appeal.
The company stands behind its products and continues to advocate the safety of baby powder and other talc-containing products. “Science, research, clinical evidence and 30 years of studies by medical experts around the world continue to support the safety of cosmetic talc,” the company states on its website.
So Why the Thousands of Ovarian Cancer Claims?
While there is no strong evidence linking talcum powder to the development of ovarian cancer, it has been suggested that it may increase the risk of cancer in the ovaries if tiny particles make their way into the body when applied to the vaginal area or used on sanitary napkins, condoms or diaphragms. The tiny particles may travel to the ovaries via the vagina, uterus or fallopian tubes and can result in irritation and quite possibly the development of cancer and other problems, studies suggest.
While studies do suggest there may be an increased risk for the development of ovarian cancer in women who use talcum powder to prevent odor and rash in the vaginal area for extended periods of time, there isn’t a clear-cut link. Research continues to determine the level of risk. In the meantime, women who have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and who have a history of using talcum powder for these purposes may be eligible to seek compensation.
Who is Eligible for Compensation?
Despite lack of strong evidence, some juries are siding with women who claim they’ve been harmed by the products, because evidence does suggest the particles can travel to the ovaries when applied directly to the vaginal area. Women who have relied on the drying and odor preventing properties of talcum powder for years may have a legitimate claim against Johnson and Johnson and other defendant companies.
The recent outcomes in the developing litigation involving J&J’s baby powder have encouraged more women to file claims seeking compensation for damages such as pain and suffering, medical expenses and decreased quality of life resulting from ovarian cancer diagnoses.
In some cases, cancer that starts in the ovaries spreads to other parts of the body and can result in death. The most recent lawsuit against J&J and Imerys Talc, amounting in an award in excess of $110 million, was one in which the plaintiff’s cancer allegedly started in her ovaries and spread to her liver. In this type of case, significant compensation is needed to cover medical costs and to ensure the plaintiff receives the highest quality treatment possible.
Use of Talc in J&J Baby Powder and Other Products
The term talcum powder is used to define the refined, powdery substance that is made from the naturally-occurring mineral, talc. The soft, white powder (talcum powder) is otherwise known as baby powder; and has been used for centuries as a baby essential and for other purposes like feminine hygiene. In powder form, talc helps absorb moisture, keep skin dry and is used to prevent rashes.
While one of the most common uses for baby powder is diaper rash, women have been sprinkling it in their underwear for centuries to help with odors, reduce moisture and help with other irritations and rashes.
Other uses for talc include:
- coating chewing gum and other candy to prevent the products from sticking to the wrapper
- polishing grains of white rice
- improving clarity and quality of olive oil
- giving texture to and absorbing oils in cosmetic products such as eye shadow, blush and foundation
- enhancing the performance of soap
- absorbing moisture in antiperspirants
- coating pills and tablets
- treating lung cancer and cystic fibrosis patients who are prone to fluid buildup in the lungs
Find Out if You Have a Claim
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer after years of using talcum powder products like Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder or Shower to Shower, you may have the right to financial compensation that can help with medical bills and other damages associated with a diagnosis. To learn more, contact a talcum powder attorney today.
Our network of qualified attorneys have been following the advancements in the recent suits against J&J and can help you seek the compensation you need as well as navigate the maze of medical bills associated with cancer.