J&J Talcum Powder Lawsuit Verdict Upheld, J&J Appeals

A $55 million judgment awarded in a 2016 talcum powder lawsuit has been upheld, according to an Order dated September 9th. The Missouri 22nd Judicial Circuit Court for St. Louis City denied Johnson & Johnson’s post-trial motions which included a motion seeking a judgment notwithstanding the verdict. On September 16th, J&J filed a notice of appeal.

The verdict was the second decided in 2016 against Johnson & Johnson in a case that involved talcum powder and its alleged association with ovarian cancer. In this case, a 62-year-old woman was diagnosed with ovarian and endometrial cancer in 2011. She had used Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder as part of her daily feminine hygiene routine for more than four decades. She was awarded a total of $55 million by the jury: $5 million in compensatory damages and $50 million in punitive damages.

The woman underwent a hysterectomy, is now in remission, and alleges her ovarian cancer was due to her use routine of J&J’s talcum powder. In February 2016, J&J lost a $72 million verdict to the family of a woman who died of ovarian cancer, alleging J&J’s powder products were the culprits. The woman had used Johnson & Johnson talc-based powders for feminine hygiene for over 30 years.

Talc, a natural mineral, is used in a wide variety of products, including cosmetics, because of its softness and absorbency. Talc is used in cosmetic products, such as blusher, because it prevents caking and absorbs excess moisture. Talc is also added to pills and chewing gum; however, talc residues are often found near asbestos deposits. Asbestos is a known carcinogen and great care must be taken to avoid contaminating talc with asbestos when it is mined.

Many women sprinkle talcum powder on their inner thighs to prevent chafing, use the powder in the genital area, or sprinkle the powder on their underwear or sanitary pads to remain fresh.

Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson has a named defendant in more than 1,000 talcum powder lawsuits brought over its Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower products. Many pending talcum powder lawsuits have been centralized in the Missouri litigation; other claims have been consolidated in Atlantic County Superior Court in New Jersey.

Plaintiffs who are pursuing federally-filed talc powder ovarian cancer claims against Johnson & Johnson are seeking centralization in a multidistrict litigation (MDL) and transfer to a single federal court for coordinated pretrial proceedings.

Plaintiffs in the talcum powder lawsuits currently pending in federal courts similarly allege that regular, repeated application of Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower products to the female genital area may increase risks for developing ovarian cancer. Allegations also include that talc particles may travel into the vagina, migrating to the ovaries. The accumulating talc may lead to the type of inflammation that encourages cancer cells to grow.

In fact, research published as far back as the 1970s suggests this association and women allege that J&J ignored research tying its Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower powder products to ovarian cancer and also neglected to warn its customers of these risks.

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