Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay $72 million to the family of an Alabama woman who died from ovarian cancer after years of using talcum powder products sold by the company. The lawsuit filed by Jacqueline Fox alleged that Johnson & Johnson failed to warn consumers about the cancer risks of the company’s baby powder products despite the fact that they had known about these risks for 30 years.
Fox began using Johnson & Johnson talcum powder products—including Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower—more than 35 years ago for feminine hygiene, according to her lawsuit. About two and a half years ago, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. A pathologist who examined Fox found talc in her ovaries, which caused the inflammation that led to her cancer diagnosis.
After she was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer, Fox contacted an attorney who helped her filed a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson. Fox succumbed to cancer in Fall 2015, leaving her son, Marvin Salter, as the plaintiff in her case.
Johnson’s Baby Powder and other talcum powder products sold by Johnson & Johnson are manufactured using talcum, a naturally-occurring mineral that is used for personal hygiene and other uses. Lawyers representing Fox and Salter allege that Johnson & Johnson continued using talcum in its baby powder products despite talcum’s link to cancer and despite the availability of safer alternatives such as corn starch.
Plaintiff’s attorneys introduced documents at trial that showed that Johnson & Johnson had known about the link between its talcum baby powder products and ovarian cancer since the 1970s. Yet, despite this knowledge, the company failed to issue a warning about the dangers of talcum powder, leaving consumers like Fox at risk of developing cancer from these products.
According to an epidemiologist who testified on Fox’s behalf, about 10% of all ovarian cancer deaths each year are caused by exposure to products containing talc. When talcum powder is used for personal hygiene by women, talc can travel through the Fallopian tubes to the ovaries, where it can cause inflammation that can lead to cancer. Despite these health risks, many women are unaware of the cancer dangers they may face from using talcum powder. Salter says that his mother filed her lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson in order to warn other women about the health risks they could be exposed to from using baby powder for personal hygiene.
Fox’s lawsuit is one of more than 1,200 cases filed against Johnson & Johnson by women who were diagnosed with ovarian cancer after using Johnson’s Baby Powder, Shower to Shower, or other talcum powder products sold by the company. The $72 million verdict against the company—which included $10 million in economic damages and $62 million in punitive damages—was the first ever damages award to a plaintiff alleging a link between products containing talcum powder and ovarian cancer.
Jurors in the case said that internal corporate documents from Johnson & Johnson—which showed the company knew about the risks of ovarian cancer from talcum powder—helped sway their decision in Fox’s favor. The documents included an internal memo that suggested marketing strategies to deal with declining sales of Johnson & Johnson baby powder caused by increased awareness of the cancer risks of these products, including marketing campaigns that specifically targeted African-American and Hispanics.
The roughly 1,200 talcum powder lawsuits still facing Johnson & Johnson include about 1,000 lawsuits filed in Missouri federal court and additional lawsuits filed in New Jersey state court. The first trial in the New Jersey litigation is scheduled to begin in April, while the first of the Missouri federal lawsuits will go to trial in July.
If you or a loved one used talcum baby powder products sold by Johnson & Johnson or other manufacturers and were diagnosed with ovarian cancer, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit in order to receive compensation for your injuries. The first step in taking legal action is to speak with a law firm whose attorneys have the experience with product liability and commercial litigation cases in order to successfully handle your case from start to finish.
The lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson have filed many product liability lawsuits on behalf of our clients, including cases involving defective drugs, dangerous medical devices, and other dangerous products. In doing so, our attorneys have taken on some of the largest companies in the world in order to ensure that our clients achieve a fair result in their case.
Above all, our law firm believes that when companies who manufacture products fail to ensure that they adhere to basic health and safety standards, these corporations should be held accountable for the harm caused by their products in a court of law. The lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson are dedicated to the belief that all consumers should have the right to experienced and qualified legal counsel to ensure that their interests are represented and that their rights are fully protected.
For more information about the link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer, or to learn more about whether you may qualify to file a lawsuit, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson for a free legal consultation. You can reach us by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by visiting the free case evaluation form at the top of this page and answering a few simple questions about your case to get started.