Made of the finely-ground mineral talc, talcum powder products were a staple in home bathrooms and nurseries for decades. However, studies linking the use of talcum powder for feminine hygiene to ovarian cancer have called the safety of these products into question.
Some research shows that, when applied to a woman's genital area, talcum powder particles can migrate into the vagina and uterus, eventually making their way to the upper reproductive track, where they can cause extreme inflammation of the fallopian tubes and ovaries that is thought to play a role in the development of ovarian cancer.
As a result, approximately 2,500 women have filed lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson—the manufacturer of popular talcum powder products Baby Powder and Shower to Shower—alleging the company knew the risks associated with the use of talc powders, but failed to inform consumers of those risks.
Juries have sided with the female plaintiffs— or their families—in five recent talc powder cases, awarding them a combined total of $724.5 million. Read on to learn more about these cases, as well as what you can do if you suspect that your ovarian cancer was caused by the use of Johnson & Johnson talcum powder products.
Women in Johnson & Johnson Lawsuits
In October 2016, a jury in St. Louis, Missouri awarded Deborah Giannecchini $70 million in damages, agreeing with her claims that long-term use of Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder caused her ovarian cancer and that the company was negligent in making and marketing their talc products.
The 63-year-old Modesto, California woman used Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder for 45 years and was still using it daily when she was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer in 2012, despite having no family history of the disease. Following the verdict, Johnson & Johnson release a statement saying that, while they sympathize with ovarian cancer patients, it plans to file an appeal in the case.
In May 2016, another St. Louis, Missouri jury awarded $55 million in damages to Gloria Ristesund, a Sioux Falls, South Dakota woman who used Johnson & Johnson talcum powders for feminine hygiene for more than 35 years before being diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2011.
As a result, Ristesund had to undergo a number of treatments and surgeries, including a hysterectomy. Ristesund's lawyers argued that Johnson & Johnson knew of the potential health risks associated with the long-term use of talc products, but failed to alert consumers. Johnson & Johnson said it plans to appeal the verdict.
In February 2016, another jury, also in St. Louis, Missouri, awarded $72 million in damages to the family of Jacqueline Fox, a Birmingham, Alabama woman who died of ovarian cancer that she believed was caused by using Johnson & Johnson's Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products for feminine hygiene for 35 years.
A pathologist familiar involved in the case found that Fox's ovaries were inflamed from long-term talc use, and that inflammation eventually led to development of the cancer that took her life. Like the other cases, following the verdict, Johnson & Johnson released a statement sympathizing with ovarian cancer patients, while announcing an intention to appeal.
In May 2017, a jury in St. Louis, Missouri ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $110.5 million in damages to Lois Slemp, a Virginia woman who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012 after using the company's talc baby powder for feminine hygiene for more than 40 years.
The jury award included $5.4 million in compensatory damages and $105 million in punitive damages against Johnson & Johnson, as well as $50,000 in punitive damages against the company's talc supplier, Imerys Talc.
In August 2017, a jury in Los Angeles awarded a record $417 million to Eva Echeverria, a California woman diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer that she alleged was caused by years of using Johnson & Johnson's iconic baby powder for feminine hygiene.
Echeverria began applying the powder daily in the 1950s and was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007. Her lawsuit alleged that the company failed to warn consumers about the cancer risks associated with the powder's use.
The award—which included $68 million in compensatory damages and $340 million in punitive damages—is the largest sum Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay in a talcum powder case to date. The company announced it plans to appeal the verdict.
These days, talcum powder lawsuits are plentiful, but not all have resulted in lucrative settlement awards. For example, in September 2016, judge in New Jersey dismissed two talc powder lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson, citing a lack of reliable evidence demonstrating that the use of talcum powder leads to the development of ovarian cancer.
Additionally, in 2013, a Sioux Falls, South Dakota woman named Deane Berg became the first person to sue Johnson & Johnson, alleging that use of the company's talc products caused her ovarian cancer. Although Berg won her lawsuit, the jury failed to award any damages.
Do You Need a Personal Injury Attorney?
Were you diagnosed with ovarian cancer after years of using Johnson & Johnson talcum powder products for feminine hygiene? If so, you may be entitled to pursue compensation for your injuries.
Contact the McGartland Law Firm today to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss the details of your talcum powder case. Our firm has 30 years of experience handling personal injury lawsuits all across the country and we're eager to assist you.