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Trials Focus on Talcum Powder and Mesothelioma


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talcum powder

Juries in two states are hearing testimony in lawsuits by men who say they developed the deadly cancer mesothelioma from exposure to talc that contained asbestos.

One case involves personal use of baby powder. The other involves workplace exposure to industrial talc.

Complaints involving both types of exposure have been filed across the country. In the few trials conducted so far, juries have handed up mixed verdicts.

Questions about Asbestos in Talc Raised Since 1970s, says FDA

Mesothelioma is a rare cancer caused almost exclusively by exposure to asbestos. It forms in the thin protective tissue that covers the lungs and abdomen.

Lawsuits claim people developed mesothelioma after exposure to talc contaminated with asbestos.

“Questions about the potential contamination of talc with asbestos have been raised since the 1970s,” according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The talc mesothelioma cases are separate from the thousands of lawsuits filed by women who say they developed ovarian cancer as a result of using Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder on their genitals.

Some of those trials have ended in multimillion-dollar verdicts in favor of the women. Judges have overturned some of those awards.

Did you develop mesothelioma after being exposed to talcum powder? Get a Free Case Review

A new class-action investor lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson accuses the New Jersey company of failing to disclose that its talc products carry the risk of both mesothelioma and ovarian cancer. That lawsuit also says the company targeted black and Hispanic women to increase sales.

On its website, J&J argues that its talc products are safe.

“Since the 1970s, talc used in consumer products has been required to be asbestos-free, so Johnson’s talc products do not contain asbestos,” the website says. “The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which identifies potential risk factors for many diseases, has not identified talc as a risk factor for ovarian cancer.”

Cases Link Talc, Mesothelioma

In an ongoing trial in New Jersey, Stephen Lanzo III, 46, says his lifetime of use of Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder caused his mesothelioma. Lawyers delivered opening statements for that trial on Jan. 29, 2018.

That trial is less than a mile away from Johnson & Johnson’s headquarters in New Brunswick, according to

Meanwhile in Florida, jurors on Feb. 22, 2018, heard opening statements in the case of Robert Lord. Lord sued Vanderbilt Minerals. He blames the company for his exposure to industrial products that contained talc while he worked for Florida Tile during the 1970s.

Lord says Vanderbilt failed to warn him adequately of the asbestos in their talc products and the health risks. According to Courtroom View Network, a similar trial in Florida in 2010 ended with the jury ruling for Vanderbilt.

5 Noteworthy Mesothelioma Talc Cases

  • A mesothelioma case involving Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder was to go to trial on March 12, 2018. But the plaintiff, Jody Ratcliff, withdrew her lawsuit with a motion to dismiss filed on Feb. 22, 2018, according to the National Law Journal.
  • In November 2018, a California jury ruled in favor of Johnson & Johnson in the case of Tina Herford. Herford said she developed mesothelioma after using Baby Powder and Shower to Shower since she was an infant.
  • In 2016, another jury in California awarded $18 million to Philip Depoian. Depioan was a longtime aid to Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley. Depioan said he was exposed to talc in the barbershop where his father worked. He was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2015.
  • A New Jersey jury in 2013 ordered talc distributor Whittaker, Clark & Daniels to pay a $1.6 million award in a talc mesothelioma case. That company distributes products including old Spice, Cashmere Bouquet and Desert Flower.
  • A jury in another mesothelioma case ordered Whittaker, Clark & Daniels to pay the estate of a Long Island woman $16.5 million in 2017.
Elaine Silvestrini
Written By Elaine Silvestrini Writer

Elaine Silvestrini is an award-winning journalist with 30 years of experience covering state and federal court systems. She joined Drugwatch in 2017. Her coverage for Drugwatch has been cited in the CDC’s Public Health Law News and the USA Today Network. Some of her qualifications include:

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention certificates in Health Literacy
  • Experience as an assistant investigator for the Federal Public Defender
  • Loyola Law School Journalist Law School Fellowship
Edited By
Emily Miller
Emily Miller Managing Editor

12 Cited Research Articles writers follow rigorous sourcing guidelines and cite only trustworthy sources of information, including peer-reviewed journals, court records, academic organizations, highly regarded nonprofit organizations, government reports and interviews with qualified experts. Review our editorial policy to learn more about our process for producing accurate, current and balanced content.

  1. Business Wire. (2018, February 27). JNJ Investors alert: Lieff Cabraser Announces Securities Class Action Against & Johnson. Retrieved
  2. Siegel, D. (2018, February 23). Talc Mesothelioma Trial In Florida Begins, Full Proceedings To Be Webcast Via CVN. Retrieved
  3. Bronstad, A. (2018, February 27). Case Linking Talc, Mesothelioma Dropped on Eve of Seattle Trial. Retrieved
  4. Gross, P. (2018, January 30). 2nd trial underway in N.J. claiming Johnson & Johnson powder causes mesothelioma. Retrieved
  5. Raymond, N. (2017, November 16). Johnson & Johnson wins California lawsuit claiming asbestos in talc caused cancer. Retrieved
  6. Schatz, D. (2018, January 24). J&J talc trial underway in New Brunswick. Retrieved
  7. Bronstad, A. (2017, November 17). J&J Gains Defense Verdict in 1st Trial Linking Talc Product to Mesothelioma. Retrieved
  8. Levin, M. (2017, November 17). Court victory for Johnson & Johnson in talc cancer case. Retrieved
  9. Insurance Journal. (2017, October 27). Jury in California Awards $18M Cosmetic Talc Cancer Verdict. Retrieved
  10. Denney, A., (2017, April 11). Cosmetic Distributor Hit With $16.5M Verdict in Talc Case. Retrieved
  11. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (n.d.). Talc. Retrieved
  12. Johnson & Johnson. (n.d.). 5 Important Facts About the Safety of Talc. Retrieved
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