Talcum Powder Lawsuits: Lawyers Share Information on Recalls & Settlements
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC represents women and men who have developed cancer after using talcum powder. Our law firm is committed to securing the most favorable compensation for individuals and families harmed by this product.
The product liability lawsuits revolve around the chilling revelation that the use of talcum powder presents a severe risk of cancer, specifically ovarian and lung cancers. Talc product manufacturers have failed to warn of these severe, life-threatening complications.
Thousands of cases have been filed across the United States, alleging that Johnson & Johnson, America's leading talc product manufacturer, has used talc in both its Johnson's Baby Powder and its Shower to Shower body powder for adults, for decades.
For years, J & J withheld scientific studies exposing the link between talc powder use and cancer. This choice not to inform the public has led to jurors awarding the injured with punitive damages—financial payments intended to punish bad corporate behavior. Some cases are pending, and others are actively being tried and settled, with developments continuing.
Connection Between Talcum and Ovarian Cancer
If you have ovarian cancer or another debilitating disease and suspect talc powder might be to blame, our trial attorneys can provide you with the latest information. Our legal team gathered answers to some frequently asked questions about talc, cancer, and litigation below.
If you'd like more information, Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC can help you understand your legal rights and weigh your chances for success if you're considering a talcum powder litigation. Contact us today to arrange a free consultation with our experienced legal team.
We are headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, and serve clients nationally.
Talcum Powder Lawsuit FAQs
Why are Women at Risk for Developing Cancer After Using Talc Products?
Many of these hygiene products are marketed to women using marketing slogans that actively pushed talc's use to control sweating, moisture, and odor in adult women's bodies, saying, "you sweat in more places than just your underarms."
Women using talc products for personal feminine hygiene are at a heightened risk for developing ovarian cancer if the product was used how it has been marketed. Talc is a naturally occurring mineral that manufacturers use in baby powder, adult cosmetics, cleaning supplies, and more.
The use of Johnson and Johnson talc powder may lead to cancer of the ovaries if used in women's genital areas. Talcum powder can eliminate dampness and lessen friction, so women have used it directly on their skin, underwear, and genital areas to reduce moisture, chafing, and odors.
However, according to the American Cancer Society, research studies reveal that using the powder near the vagina permits it to enter the body and travel to the ovaries. Talc may lead to cancer if it is contaminated with asbestos, a known carcinogen. Talc frequently occurs in nature with asbestos in various amounts of the toxic substance.
How Does Talcum Powder Cause Ovarian Cancer?
Starting in the 1970s, studied research found a link between talc and asbestos. In the 1971 medical paper "Talc and Carcinoma of the Ovary and Cervix," researchers reported finding talc remnants deep within malignant tumors.
As early as 1994, cancer patients' rights organizations explicitly lodged complaints about the talc particle and cancer connection in talc products. Mining companies have listed cancer warnings on talc safety data sheets since 2006.
Research also shows that talc can also cause lung cancer—specifically, mesothelioma, a kind of lung cancer that affects the linings between the organs of the torso. Scientists believe the cancer is caused by asbestos contamination in the talc.
If the powder is inhaled—as it might be for a regular user of body powder or baby powder—those asbestos particles can be trapped in the lungs. Despite repeated reassurances that talc was asbestos-free, there's evidence that cosmetics company J&J—one of the largest producers of talc products—continued finding asbestos in its talcum powder products but failed to disclose those findings to the public.
Internal documentation suggests it knew about the cancer link as early as 1997. Nonetheless, the company continued to sell its products without any warning to consumers regarding the ovarian cancer risk.
What are the Side Effects of Talc?
The signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer can be subtle or confused with signs of other, less severe illnesses. There may be few or no signs of its advancement, especially in the initial stages. However, signs do become more apparent as the disease advances, especially after cancer spreads (metastasizes) through the body.
According to the National Cancer Institute, symptoms of cancer in the ovaries include but are not limited to:
- Frequent urination
- Appetite loss
- Pelvic pain
- Abdominal pain
- Swelling in the abdomen, pelvis, or adjacent areas of the body
- Fluctuations in bowel habits
- Rapid or significant weight loss
There is no standard screening for cancer in the ovaries or fallopian tubes. Doctors rely on a combination of tests that include a pelvic exam, a transvaginal ultrasound, a blood test, CT scan, and surgery to obtain biopsy tissue.
How is Ovarian Cancer Diagnosed?
Physicians who suspect ovarian or fallopian tube cancer will generally confirm their diagnosis by reviewing biopsy material, removing some tissue for close examination.
If you've been diagnosed with any stage of ovarian cancer, you may be offered treatment options, including chemotherapy, surgery, radiation therapy, and hormone therapy. Which ones you're offered may depend on your stage of the disease and other health factors.
What is the Treatment for Ovarian Cancer?
Surgery is the most chosen treatment for removal of the cancerous tissue, or in some cases, the entire reproductive system. How much tissue is removed depends on how cancer has progress and the patient's age. Typically, a gynecologic oncologist, a doctor who specializes in cancers of the female reproductive system, performs the surgery.
Cancer patients may also be given chemotherapy, where doctors administer mild toxins to prevent cancer cells from growing. Patients with ovarian cancer usually take chemotherapy drugs periodically for about a month and may repeat this process a handful of times, depending on the disease's progress.
The exact amount and kind of drugs you take depend on your circumstances and your doctor's opinions.
In addition to, or instead of, one of the above treatments, doctors may also prescribe hormone therapy or radiation. Radiation is not commonly used for ovarian cancer, but its goal is to kill cancer cells with X-rays.
Hormone therapy triggers or suppresses hormones in the body in ways that can fight cancer. Also, you may be offered targeted therapies, which uses your body's initial response to chemotherapy to narrowly direct further treatment.
Whether any of these are options may depend on your circumstances and your doctor. Early detection is an essential factor in ovarian cancer survival rates. Outcomes vary widely and depend on whether the patient responds well to treatment.
How do You get Cancer from Talcum Powder?
Yes, multiple medical studies show a connection between cancer and talc exposure. Statistically, one in fifty women, or 2%, develop ovarian cancer. However, studies show that using talcum powder products might heighten that risk to 25% or even 30%.
Talcum powder, is an exceptionally fine powder, can be inhaled. The American Cancer Society says it's generally accepted that talc with asbestos can cause cancer of the lung—specifically, mesothelioma, rare lung cancer caused only by asbestos exposure.
Any asbestos contaminating the product can be inhaled with it. Those asbestos particles are so small that they can become trapped in the body and cause irritation that eventually creates mesothelioma.
Unfortunately, mesothelioma takes decades to reveal any symptoms, and it's often not detected until the disease has advanced to a stage that is challenging to treat effectively. A diagnosis of advanced mesothelioma can be devastating and can be a terminal illness.
Are There Case Studies Correlating Talc With Cancer?
Perhaps the most convincing evidence that talc is related to ovarian cancer was revealed in two case-control studies from 2016, The African American Cancer Epidemiology Study (AACES), and The New England Ovarian Cancer Study.
The study compared nearly 600 African American women with ovarian cancer to over 700 women who weren't afflicted.
African American Cancer Epidemiology Study
This study found that women who had used talc in their genital area were 44% more likely to be diagnosed with ovarian cancer compared to the control group, increasing their risk from 1.3% to 2%.
A study footnote indicated that women with a respiratory condition like asthma were at a slightly more elevated risk. Its authors attribute the increased risk to the body's ability to react and develop inflammation—a condition known to spur cancer cell growth.
New England Ovarian Cancer Study
The National Institutes of Health funded the study involving over 2,000 women diagnosed with ovarian cancer. This group was compared to over 1,500 women who had not been diagnosed with cancer.
Women who had used Johnson talc on their genitals or other body areas were about thirty-three percent more likely than non-users to develop ovarian cancer. The study also found an additional risk factor: Women who were sterilized before menopause (through a hysterectomy or tubal ligation), or who took hormone replacement therapy for menopause symptoms, were more likely to develop cancer than talc users alone.
To date, almost two dozen studies suggest that a relationship exists between Johnson's baby powder and ovarian cancer. There have also been surveys of studies, which collect the results from multiple individual medical studies to see if there is a clear trend within those studies.
All studies found a substantial increase in cancer risk for people who used talcum powder anywhere on their bodies.
Why are People Suing Over Ovarian Cancer and Mesothelioma?
People are suing over ovarian cancer and mesothelioma because, for decades, J & J and other talc product makers denied any correlation between cancer and their products. In recent years, however, a wealth of research has shown a connection.
The lawsuits generally allege that Johnson & Johnson has known about this link since 1982 but failed to warn customers about the risks. Dr. Daniel Cramer, a Harvard epidemiologist, discovered the link between Johnson talcum powder and an increased risk of cancer in a study he conducted in 1982.
When he released the results, Johnson and Johnson contacted him to discuss his observations and evidence. He suggested they take talcum powder products off the market.
Twenty-one additional studies over three more decades supported the epidemiologist's conclusions. However, Johnson & Johnson continued to market their products without warning.
That decision led to jurors awarding massive punitive damages to people who developed cancer from baby powder exposure. If you have questions about joining a pending talcum powder lawsuit, contact an attorney at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC today.
FDA Sampling Tests Finds Asbestos-Laced Talcum Powder
In February 2020, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) held a meeting for public awareness on the testing methods used to identify asbestos in cosmetic products and talcum powder. The following month, the federal administration issued updates on their results.
Some of the results show that out of fifty-one samples of talc powder and cosmetic products, including blush, nine samples tested positive for asbestos, and forty-three were found to be negative. Additional talcum samplings by the FDA are expected to be conducted throughout the remainder of the year with results of the test made public expected in early 2021.
According to the Cancer Society, some studies have shown a potential risk of women developing Ovarian Cancer. The organization says that there is only minimal scientific evidence of a correlation between Ovarian Cancer and the use of talcum powder.
What is the Talcum Powder Lawsuit?
Baby powder litigation is an active area of the federal and state law. Lawsuits alleging a link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer—and that manufacturers withheld information about that link—have made headlines, thanks to jury verdicts in the millions and billions of dollars.
According to CNBC, J & J faced roughly 14,000 lawsuits as of July of 2019, alleging that it's baby powder products caused an increased risk of ovarian cancer or mesothelioma. The network says 11,000 of those cases have been consolidated into one case being heard as "multidistrict litigation" in New Jersey federal court.
There are also individual talcum powder lawsuit cases that have not been consolidated.
How Much are Settlements for Talcum Powder?
- In July 2019, an appellate court upheld a California jury's award of $417 million to Deborah Giannecchini. The Los Angeles jury found sufficient evidence that Johnson & Johnson's baby powder caused her cancer.
- According to an October 2019 report from the New York Times, J & J has lost at least fourteen cases, including one where jurors awarded plaintiffs $4.7 billion. One case, Olson v. Brenntag, involved Donna Olson and her husband, who argued that J & J baby powder products caused Olson's mesothelioma, rare lung cancer caused by asbestos exposure.
- A New York jury ultimately awarded the couple $325 million. Olson was too sick to attend, having been forced to remove one of her lungs.
- In 2018, another plaintiff's victory involved plaintiffs in Ingham v. Johnson & Johnson. The case focused explicitly on asbestos exposure leading to an ovarian cancer diagnosis.
- The trial, which lasted six weeks, ended in 2018 with a jury verdict of more than $4.6 billion—$25 million for each of the families, including some that had already lost loved ones to ovarian cancer. This trial was remarkable not just for the massive award, but in how the jurors arrived at that dollar amount for compensatory and punitive damages.
- A St. Louis jury was motivated to pursue punitive damages in an amount that would send a message. According to the Missouri St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The Missouri jury "multiplied the roughly $70 million J & J earned selling baby powder in a recent year by the 43 years it's been since the company claimed the baby powder did not contain asbestos".
- In March 2019, J&J reached a series of settlements with mesothelioma victims in three states. The settlements likely avoided additional costs to the company from an Oklahoma, New York, or California jury verdict that leaves plaintiffs with huge awards.
In the Oklahoma case, the company offered a settlement after the trial, while the jury was still deliberating. A 36-year-old plaintiff argued that she'd gotten cancer after using the product since childhood. In New York, J & J settled the case a month before it went to trial.
Has Johnson & Johnson Changed Their Strategy for Settling?
The move to settle lawsuits shifted Johnson and Johnson's strategy in their mesothelioma and ovarian cancer cases. The company had historically been reluctant to settle. But these cases indicate a change.
As a Bloomberg report points out, settling could help the company to cut its losses. "According to Jean Eggen, a Widener University law professor, 'It looks like they have decided to cut their losses in some cases and move on.'"
That decision to settle might create faster resolutions for the over pending 13,000 cases from mesothelioma and cancer victims filed against J & J and its talcum powder products. As more information on lawsuits emerges, Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC will update this page.
Can I Join the Pending Talcum Powder Lawsuits?
Yes, you can join the pending talcum powder lawsuits. Many people have joined lawsuits or filed individual cases after being diagnosed with cancer that might have been caused by using talc products. These talcum powder lawsuits are typically brought against the manufacturers, producers, and distributors of talcum-powder products.
Whether you have a claim depends on your history of using the product and the type of harm you suffered.
So far, J & J has been named in almost all Talc injury cases. Typically, most lawsuits claim the company did not correctly or adequately warn its consumers of the risk of ovarian cancer or other threats when using its hygiene and cosmetic products.
It is interesting to note that these class actions were kicked off after an individual in South Dakota won a personal negligence case against Johnson & Johnson using a similar argument. Many newly filed lawsuits are a part of class-action lawsuits, where many people who have the same complaint against the same person or company join to pursue that complaint in court.
However, not all plaintiffs filing a claim bring the action. Instead, a representative of the group prosecutes the case for the good of the entire class against the defendant(s) in 'bellwether" cases.
Whether you should join a class-action lawsuit or file individually is a question you should discuss with an experienced Chicago talcum powder cancer lawyer. Some individuals have obtained higher settlement amounts or $1 million verdicts (jury awards) or more without participating in class action suits.
How Long do I Have to File a Talc Cancer Lawsuit?
How long you have to file a talc cancer lawsuit depends on your circumstances and where you live. All states have deadlines to sue, which are called statutes of limitations in the law. The statute prohibits you from bringing an action many years after your injury, in recognition of the reality that evidence and witnesses are harder to find after many years.
Different states have different deadlines for suing, and they may also set different deadlines for various kinds of cases. The rule for talc-related injuries in Chicago, Illinois, that might lead to a talc cancer lawsuit allows you two years to file your claim from when you were injured.
How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Talcum Powder Attorney?
There are no upfront fees to hire a talcum powder cancer attorney to represent you or your family in a talcum powder lawsuit. Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC handles all baby powder lawsuits on a contingency fee agreement. This arrangement ensures that we only receive a fee for our services when we are successful in obtaining a recovery on your behalf. If we do not win, you owe us nothing.
We're Accepting Talcum Powder Claims on Behalf of Individuals and Families
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC is currently handling talcum powder cases on behalf of women and their families from across the United States.
If you or a loved one has developed ovarian cancer while using J & J baby powder, cornstarch talc, or Shower to Shower, contact us today for a free case evaluation to learn more about your legal options.
During your free case review, our personal injury law firm can help you determine whether it would be in your best interest to join the class action lawsuit initiated against that company's talc distributor or talc supplier or file an individual claim.
Our Chicago-based medical product liability attorneys have decades of experience handling these types of cases and have helped thousands of clients receive fair compensation. Our services are free of charge if we are unable to do the same for you.
Note that submission of a claim or lawsuit must be filed in the appropriate county courthouse before the statute of limitations expires.
Visit our Talcum Powder FAQs for a comprehensive explanation of the medical and legal concepts involved with these cases.