Talcum powder has been marketed and used as a personal hygiene product since the late 1800s. It is often used to reduce friction and absorb moisture in sensitive areas. However, when dusted on the female genital area, talcum powder may reach the ovaries and lead to ovarian cancer.
If you have been diagnosed with an ovarian cancer after regular use of talcum powder, call the New York City Talcum Powder Illness Lawyers at Sullivan Papain Block McGrath & Cannavo, PC at (212) 732-9000.
Talcum powder is made from finely ground talc, a natural mineral containing mostly silicon, magnesium and oxygen. Studies and evidence at trials have demonstrated that talc particles are can migrate through the fallopian tubes to the ovaries when used in the genital area. The talc particles have been shown to cause inflammation in the body, which can begin the ovarian cancer process at the site where the powder was trapped.
Talcum powder’s link to ovarian cancer was established more than 40 years ago and has been consistently demonstrated by approximately 30 studies since. In 1971, the first study to suggest that talc may be linked to ovarian cancer was published in the medical journal The Lancet. In 1982, Daniel Cramer, a Harvard University professor, published a report claiming that women using talc around their genital area were three times as likely to develop ovarian cancer as those who did not. Within the past five years, several studies have confirmed these findings.
Today, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) recognizes cosmetic talc as a “possible human carcinogen,” and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and American Cancer Society list talc use as a “risk factor” for ovarian cancer.
Internal corporate documents revealed during talcum powder trials demonstrate that Johnson & Johnson and its supplier Imerys likely knew about the dangers of talcum powder. One such document, a 1997 internal memorandum written by a paid J&J toxicologist, compared the talcum powder to the cigarette industry and stated that anybody denying the risks associated with talcum powder is “denying the obvious in the face of all evidence to the contrary.” You can find the document here.
Another document created by J&J’s mining supplier as part of its marketing materials, depicts a monopoly board with the word talc in the middle with pictures of a skull and cross bones with the words “warning” and danger.” You can find the image here.
If a doctor recently diagnosed you with ovarian cancer after using talcum powder regularly in the genital area, work with an attorney to discuss your rights. Johnson & Johnson may be legally responsible for your condition. A successful product liability or wrongful death claim against the talcum powder manufacturer could result in damage recovery.
In December of 2018, a Reuters investigative report indicated that J&J company executives, mine managers, scientists, doctors and lawyers had explicit knowledge that some of its talcum powder products were tainted with carcinogenic asbestos. Reuters examined thousands of pages of J&J memos, internal reports and other company documents, which revealed that tests conducted between the 1970s and early 2000s demonstrated the presence of asbestos in some of J&J’s raw talc and finished powders. Asbestos is a known human carcinogen. Reuters also found information indicating that several company executives discussed the problem and how to address it, but ultimately willfully failed to disclose it to regulators and consumers.
A number of juries have found in favor of ovarian cancer victims and have awarded punitive damages for Johnson & Johnson’s knowing and wrongful conduct. Here are some of the recent verdicts in talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits:
Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay out $4.7 billion in punitive and compensatory damages to 22 women in Missouri. The amount of punitive damages awarded in this case are among the highest ever for a product liability case. The company was accused of failing to warn the plaintiffs about the risks associated with using their baby and body powders, as every woman claimed to have developed ovarian cancer due to the asbestos in the talc products. This is the first case claiming that ovarian cancer was linked to asbestos contamination in the company’s talc. In December of 2018, a judge upheld the jury’s verdict and Johnson & Johnson lost their motion for a reversal. The company will appeal the court’s decision.
Eva Echeverria was awarded $417 million by a California jury after claiming that the more than 40 years she had used Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower caused her ovarian cancer due to the talc. A month after receiving the ruling in her favor, Echeverria succumbed to her disease. In October 2017, a California Superior Court Judge overturned the verdict, as she stated there was no convincing evidence that the company had acted with malice. The lawyers representing Echeverria’s estate are appealing the judge’s ruling.
A jury in St. Louis awarded Lois Slemp $110 million in compensatory and punitive damages after alleging that Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products caused her ovarian cancer. She claimed to have used the company’s products for over four decades. The verdict was upheld by a circuit judge in November, 2017.
A Missouri jury awarded 62-year-old Deborah Giannecchini $70 million in damages, after she developed ovarian cancer from using Johnson & Johnson’s talc powder for more than four decades. A Missouri appeals court overturned the verdict on jurisdictional grounds, stating that the case should not have been tried since it was an out-of-state plaintiff.
Gloria Ristesund was already at risk of ovarian cancer due to an underlying condition of endometriosis. However, her lawyers argued that her frequent use of Johnson & Johnson talc powder increased the chances of her developing ovarian cancer by 200 percent. A Missouri jury agreed and awarded the plaintiff $55 million in damages. A three-judge panel of the Missouri Court of Appeals overturned the verdict in June, 2018 based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2017 decision that limits where companies can be sued for personal injuries.
Jacqueline Fox lost her life to ovarian cancer after using Johnson & Johnson’s talc powder on a daily basis for 35 years. A jury awarded $72 million to the family of Jacqueline Fox in February of 2016. The award broke down into $10 million for actual damages and $62 million in punitive damages, one million for each year of her life. However, a judge overturned the verdict in October, 2017.
Johnson & Johnson is currently facing approximately 13,000 lawsuits for claims that their baby powder has caused ovarian cancer.
Our product liability lawyers have decades of experience handling complex claims. We may be able to help you pursue compensation for the injury you sustained as a result of using talcum powder products. Contact us today to schedule a free case evaluation in New York City.