J&J talcum powder lawsuitOn February 22, 2016, a Missouri Jury ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $72 million to the family of a woman who died from ovarian cancer after using the company’s talc-based Baby Powder and Shower to Shower for over three decades.  Plaintiff Jacqueline Fox died in October 2015 at the age of 62 following a two year battle with ovarian cancer.  The Jury award consisted of $10 million in actual damages and $62 million in punitive damages designed to punish Johnson & Johnson for its misconduct and deter others from similar conduct.  The Jury found Johnson & Johnson liable for fraud, negligence and conspiracy as evidence produced at trial demonstrated that the company knew about the link between its talc-based products and cancer for decades yet failed to warn the public.  Among the evidence produced at trial was a 1997 internal memo from a Johnson & Johnson medical consultant suggesting that “anybody who denies (the) risks between “hygienic” talc use and ovarian cancer will be publicly perceived in the same light as those who denied a link between smoking cigarettes and cancer: “denying the obvious in the face of all evidence to the contrary.”  Despite its clear knowledge of heightened cancer risks, Johnson & Johnson continued to promote and sell its dangerous talc-based products.

Although this is the first case in which a jury has awarded monetary damages due to the use of Johnson & Johnson’s talc products, a federal Jury in South Dakota previously found in 2013 that a 56 year old woman’s ovarian cancer was caused by her use of Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower.  The Plaintiff Deane Berg was diagnosed with Stage III Ovarian Cancer in January of 2007 after using Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower for three decades.  Examining physicians found talc in her ovarian tumor and determined that talc was the cause of her cancer.  Dr. Daniel Cramer, a Harvard epidemiologist and gynecologist, testified at the trial that as many as 10,000 cases of ovarian cancer may be caused by talcum powder each year.  The Jury ultimately found Johnson & Johnson liable for negligence in failing to warn of the increased risk of ovarian cancer caused by use of their talc-based products.

Evidence linking the use of talcum powder and ovarian cancer is not new.  In fact, suspicions regarding talc and ovarian cancer first came to light more than forty-years ago.  In 1971, British researchers microscopically analyzed 13 ovarian tumors and found talc present in 10 of the tumors, or 75%.  Since that time, about 20 epidemiological studies have found increased rates of ovarian cancer in women using talc for personal hygiene use, with some reports of a 30% increase in the risk of ovarian cancer.

Currently, more than 22,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year and 14,000 will die from this devastating disease every year.  If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer and used talc-based products such as Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder or Shower to Shower, call us today for a free consultation toll free at 877-288-9247 or 732-224-9400.