Lawsuits for Talcum Powder is Being Linked to Ovarian Cancer

Michael Bennett
March 31, 2016 - 683 Views

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For many decades, women have used talcum powder to relieve discomfort, odor and moisture in the vaginal area. The question of whether or not this practice leads to ovarian cancer is an area of concern for everyone. Unfortunately for some women, the investigation comes too late; they already have suffered ovarian cancer or death. The possibility that this connection exists has sparked new research into this problem. Today, scientists continue to study any possible link between the use of talcum powder and ovarian cancer.

When a product causes personal harm or death, the injured party or their family may be eligible to obtain fair monetary compensation for related expenses, losses and other damage claims. If enough people are harmed by the same product, the legal situation may evolve to become a class-action lawsuit, which may include multiple plaintiffs from several states or nationwide. This contributes to efficiency in handling similar cases and the penalties levied often are considerably high enough to provide payment to all plaintiffs in that group.

Talcum Powder Ovarian Cancer Lawsuits

In 2014, two class-action lawsuits were filed, in California and Illinois, against pharmaceutical manufacturer Johnson & Johnson. The lawsuits contained claims that the use of their talc products gave women ovarian cancer, and that the company failed to properly warn of a possible association between their talc products and ovarian cancer. The products cited in these lawsuits are Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower. A primary argument presented in these lawsuits is that Johnson & Johnson was negligent because it did not provide any warning about a possible link between talc and ovarian cancer on their product labels. Jump to Statute of Limitations Associated with Talcum Powder Lawsuits.

These class-action lawsuits were filed a year after a woman from South Dakota, Deane Berg, won a similar claim that Johnson & Johnson was negligent by not warning users about the potential risk for development of ovarian cancer. She had used J&J Baby Powder and Shower to Shower for over 30 years and was diagnosed in 2006 with ovarian cancer. Several doctors examined her cancerous tissue and found evidence of talc particles in the tissues, and they concluded that talcum powder caused her cancer. Other claims Ms. Berg made against Johnson & Johnson were denied, and she received no compensation for this accepted claim or a later appeal for compensation.

In another court case, a St. Louis jury ordered $72 million in damages to be paid to the family of an Alabama woman who died in 2015, two years after she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Of that total, $62 million was for punitive damages. This was the first lawsuit to result in monetary compensation. Her son said that his mother, Jackie Fox, had used J&J Baby Powder and the lawsuit claim blamed Johnson & Johnson for not informing consumers that there could be danger from talc use. The company continued to claim that their products are safe.

Talcum Powder Cautions

Analysis of cancerous ovaries has shown that in some cases, the substances of talc and asbestos have been found to be a cause of that cancerous tissue. In geologic formations, those two minerals are generally found together, and it is known that asbestos causes cancer. In the past, some talc powders have also contained asbestos, but in recent years, quality assurance programs have minimized that problem. Some modern talcum powders also contain cornstarch, which is safe to use. Talcum powder materials may originate from other sources also, such as condoms that are sprinkled with powder to facilitate use.

The cancer problems occur because powders can migrate to the ovaries from the vaginal area. If any powder also contains talc, or as in the old days when talc was mixed with a little asbestos, it can slightly increase the risk of a woman getting ovarian cancer. Studies on this problem have been done for over three decades, but without substantive conclusions.

American Health Foundation researcher, John Whysner, MD, PhD, has reviewed over 50 studies on this topic that were written over the past 30 years. He states that there is insufficient information to draw a conclusion that there is a causal relationship between talc and ovarian cancer. Two other professors who also are MDs in Gynecology, Obstetrics and Oncology agreed with that thought, but they also warned women to avoid using powders in their vaginal areas, because there may be a minimal chance of getting ovarian cancer.

The composition of these powders also complicates the ability to draw conclusions. Early powders used to contain talc and some asbestos, which is a proven cancer-causing substance. In recent years, some modern powder formulas also add cornstarch, which is not harmful, to the talc. The best course of action for women is to avoid talc product use in the vaginal area completely. Read labels and discard old talc powders.

Ovarian Cancer – Symptoms

There are two common and easily recognizable symptoms of ovarian cancer. One is any accumulation of excess fluid in the abdomen. This would cause abdominal swelling. Another symptom that is the most frequently reported is vaginal bleeding. This can be seen during the monthly periods if menstrual flow is excessive and longer lasting than normal. Unfortunately, the symptom of excessive bleeding may also lead a woman to use more talc powder during that time.

Other symptoms that could indicate ovarian cancer include: abdominal or pelvic discomfort, bloating, back or leg pain, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, jaundice, gastrointestinal problems, weight loss and changes in urinary frequency or bowel function. Women who have any of these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention to determine if there is any abnormality.

Filing Your Lawsuit

Most people have never faced serious legal problems that required representation by an experienced Personal Injury Attorney. References are important to use; you can contact the local Bar Association for names of attorneys with the type of experience needed for your individual case. Friends may also have a good recommendation, depending on their experiences. Remember that you want to work with an attorney who has experience handling cases that are similar to yours. This is a definite advantage all around, and you will have a better chance of winning your case due to their track record of success. Once you have selected an attorney to work with, you still may wish to double check with the local Bar Association to make sure they have an excellent reputation and that no disciplinary actions exist.

Once you have chosen an attorney, arrange for an initial free interview and decide if you are comfortable working with this legal professional. Take a list of important questions you want answered with you. The attorney should give you personalized attention and make sure that you get your questions all answered and that you understand the legal processes you will be subject to during the lawsuit. Find out how quickly they will respond to inquiries or phone calls you might make, and other communications. Ask the attorney if you will work directly with them, or if you will have interactions with other staff personnel or attorneys at the firm. It is acceptable to work with other lawyers, paralegals and others, but your primary work should be directly with your chosen attorney.

Your attorney will help you determine the best course of legal action to follow. If you are eligible to participate in a class-action lawsuit, they should also have that information readily available. Ask about payment arrangements, because even if they accept your case on a contingent basis, you may have to pay for some small office fees.

Personal injury Lawsuits

The foundation of personal injury lawsuits is generally a charge of negligence. Negligent behavior by an individual or a company that results in any type of injury to a human is a personal injury. The damage may be seen in physical injuries or in harm to the mental or emotional state of that person. Some damages claimed in personal injury lawsuits are purely economic, such as medical care expenses. Other types of personal injury are non-economic, with no set monetary value, such as pain and suffering, or anxiety.

Regardless of the type of damages, economic or non-economic, the victim deserves fair compensation for their loss claims. Loss of peace of mind, loss of companionship, or being unable to enjoy a normal lifestyle may be hard to calculate in monetary terms, but these items can still be an important part of any lawsuit for personal injury. There usually are many concrete monetary expenses involved with injury cases, but the intangible damages are equally important and they are personally costly to a victim. The courts and lawyers are very familiar with these issues. There is plenty of precedent set in prior lawsuits to aid in calculating how much compensation to request for non-economic damage claims.

Damages frequently claimed in personal injury lawsuits include:

  • Medical Expenses – Emergency treatment, doctors, hospitals, nurses, dentists, other caregivers, rehabilitation therapy, mental/psychological treatment, special equipment, home care, nursing home care
  • Work/Income Losses – Lost income due to temporary or permanent disability, lost benefits, job retraining expenses, loss of future income
  • Non-Economic Claims – Pain and suffering, loss of lifestyle enjoyment, mental/psychological harm, anxiety, loss of consortium
  • Survivor Claims – Funeral and burial expenses, lost companionship/guardianship, loss of future inheritance
  • Punitive Damages – Granted in certain situations where a defendant’s actions are particularly devious or deliberate

Previous talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits have established that Johnson & Johnson was negligent in not warning consumers about the dangers of talc associated with ovarian cancer. Enormous awards have been granted, as much as $72 million to the son of a woman who died from talcum powder ovarian cancer. In addition to lawsuits against J&J, their subsidiary company, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies, has also been included in some lawsuits.

Not all plaintiffs suffered from ovarian cancer and related damages, but they did file claims against producers of talcum powder products. Claims presented in the California class action lawsuit that resident Mona Estrada brought against Johnson & Johnson and Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies included charges that there was:

  • Breach of implied warranty
  • Violation of the Unfair Competition Law
  • Violation of Business and Professional Code
  • Violation of consumer’s legal remedies

A month after the California class action lawsuit was filed, Barbara Mihalich, an Illinois resident, filed a class action lawsuit claiming that the two companies profited unjustly from their talcum powder products and that the companies violated the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practice Act. Her complaint involved Baby Powder, but she had not been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, nor did she claim to have any physical harm from that product. She filed the legal action on behalf of herself and other consumers.

Ovarian Cancer Attorney

If you have been told you have ovarian cancer related to use of talcum powder products, or if a loved one died from this problem, an experienced ovarian cancer attorney is your best resource to help you find justice. They will be familiar with this issue and they will provide guidance for you as you go through this legal process. Their experience handling similar talcum powder ovarian cancer cases will benefit your case. Your personal injury attorney also has vast resources to bring in as needed, including expert witnesses who can calculate future expenses and the monetary values of intangible damages.

Talcum Powder Ovarian Cancer Lawsuits, like other personal injury lawsuits, generally are accepted by an experienced Personal Injury Attorney on a contingency basis. This means there is no fee unless and until your case is won. It is important to act quickly if you have any concerns about possibly having ovarian cancer due to use of talcum powder products, or if a loved one has died from ovarian cancer. There may be time limits to meet, or there may be a class action lawsuit in your region that you could be eligible to participate in. Contact our Ovarian Cancer Attorney today to arrange for your free initial consultation and to receive professional legal advice about which course of action will bring you best results.

Michael Bennett

About Michael Bennett

Michael Bennett is Editor-in-Chief of Consumer Protect.com. Since 1999, he's worked across a multitude of areas of consumer protection including defective products, environmental issues, identity theft, predatory lending and more. If you find his articles helpful please share them with your readers.