Talcum Powder Ovarian Cancer Lawsuit
Talc is a clay mineral that is composed of hydrated magnesium silicate. It is often used in powdered form with a combination with corn starch, a substance widely known as baby powder. Talc is one of the oldest known solid lubricants.
Talc had a variety of different uses for thousands of years, but in 1893, Johnson & Johnson company made a name for the mineral. At the time, J&J was manufacturing medical plasters, but received criticism that its product irritated the skin. In an attempt to rectify this issue, the company’s Scientific Director, Fred Kilmer, sent its customers small tins of the finely ground talc to help soothe their irritated skin. Surprisingly, the customers couldn’t get enough of the powder, which people quickly realized also helped with diaper rash. And that’s how Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder was born in 1893.The company delivered created more products, helping them early the nickname “The Baby’s Company.”
Johnson & Johnson capitalized on the advertising boom following World War II, launching its largest campaign ever—for Johnson’s Baby Powder. After the big push, baby powder became a staple of American child care.
These days Talc is used by basketball players to keep their hands dry during play. Tailor’s chalk is made of talc. Chalk is often made of talc. Talc is also used as food additive and in pharmaceutical products as a glidant. Talc is used for medical purposes as an agent to prevent recurrent pleural effusion or pneumothorax. Talc is sometimes used to buff white rice in the polishing stage. It is used to coat rubber and plastic to keep surfaces from sticking.
In June 1969, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published an article written by Malcolm H. Moss entitled “Dangers from Talcum Powder.”
The article stated, “Most pediatricians are aware of the adverse effects of talcum powder aspiration, which may result in acute or chronic lung disease. At least three fatalities have been reported following the aspiration of talcum powder by infants. Verbal communication with the New York Poison Control Center reveals that approximately 50 cases of talcum powder aspiration are reported to that center annually.”
The warning continued, “Despite the potential dangers of talc aspiration, little has been done to publicize these dangers to the general public.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) still recommends that parents do not use baby powder because of the inhalation risk, possible respiratory problems, including breathing trouble and possible serious lung damage. Until the 1970s, baby powder contained asbestos, which has been linked to lung cancer and mesothelioma. Johnson & Johnson did remove the asbestos, but talc’s other risks are still present. Zinc oxide-based ointments are considered a safer alternative for babies.
Studies have also shown that women who use talc for feminine hygiene have an increased risk of ovarian cancer. In 1999, a study came out in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, which noted that “Perineal talc use has been associated with an increased risk of ovarian cancer in a number of case-control studies,” concluding that “perineal talc use may modestly increase the risk of invasive serious ovarian cancer.”
In 2013, the American Association for Cancer Research published that talc powder “is associated with a modest 20-30 percent increase in risk of developing epithelial ovarian cancer.” The American Cancer Society has also said that it considers talc use near the genitals a “risk factor” for ovarian cancer. Despite this, Johnson & Johnson and other talc-based baby powder manufacturers have not placed warnings about this risk on their products.
In 2016, the family of Jacqueline Fox, an Alabama resident who died in 2015 of ovarian cancer at age of 62 after using J&J’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower for more than 35 years, sued Johnson & Johnson, claiming her death was caused by using their products for years.
During the 2016 trial, internal memos suggested Johnson & Johnson executives knew of the risks and one of their medical consultants even compared talc use to smoking.
In February 2016, Fox’s family was awarded $72 million. It was the first of four jury awards totaling $307 million in state court in St. Louis to plaintiffs who accused J&J of not adequately providing a warning about the cancer risks of its talc-based products. In 2017, J&J won a reversal of the $72 million. The Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District said that the case over the death of Fox, who was an Alabama resident, should not have been tried in St. Louis.
Despite that win, J&J has faced lawsuits by 4,800 plaintiffs nationally over similar claims of its products.
In 2013, Deane Berge, a physician’s assistant, sued Johnson & Johnson after she contracted ovarian cancer, which she claimed developed from her regular baby powder use. The company offered her a $1.3 million settlement, which she turned down, instead taking the case to court. Johnson & Johnson was found guilty of negligence, fraud, and conspiracy for not warning women of its products’ health risks.
In April 2014, Mona Estrada filed a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson in California for failure to warn women of the risk of ovarian cancer. In May 2014, Barbara Mihalich of Illinois filed a class action suit alleging that Johnson & Johnson utilized deceptive business practices and profited unjustly from its talc products. It should be noted that neither Estrada nor Mihalich has ovarian cancer or suffers from talc-related problems.
In May 2016, Gloria Ristesund, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer after using Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower Powder on her pelvic area for decades, sued Johnson & Johnson. The jury awarded Ristesund $55 million: $100 million for punitive damages, and $5 million for compensatory damages. She had to undergo a hysterectomy.
In May 2017, Lois Stemp was awarded awarded $110 million by a St. Louis jury. Ms. Slemp also alleged that her regular use of Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower products over 40 years caused her ovarian cancer, which spread to her liver. In her suit, Slemp also alleged that Johnson’s Baby Powder contained asbestos. The company denied the accusation. Of the $110 monetary sum she was awarded, $105 million were for punitive damages.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer after using talc-based products or baby powder, a class action lawsuit will not provide you with compensation for medical bills and other damages related to the cancer diagnosis as the pending class action lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson only seek compensation for the cost of the powders on behalf of those who purchased the products, regardless of whether or not the consumers developed cancer.
However, if you are in the Washington D.C. area and are looking like to file a lawsuit separate from the class action, you can seek compensation for any damages stemming from a cancer diagnosis, including past, present and future medical bills, wages, pain and suffering and funeral expenses (if a loved one has died as a result of using talc) by contacting Cohen & Cohen today.
If you are in the DC area and are looking to file a lawsuit for any damages stemming from a cancer diagnosis you can reach us at a 24/7 live phone answering. So, if you need a DC lawyer who handles lawsuits contact Cohen & Cohen, our DC Law Firm today.