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Talcum Powder Lawsuits

Talcum powder lawsuits claim manufacturers knew their talc was contaminated by asbestos and could cause mesothelioma and ovarian cancer, but they did nothing to warn consumers about the risk of their products. Thousands of people are now filing mesothelioma and ovarian cancer lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson and other talcum powder manufacturers.

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Talcum Powder Lawsuit Facts
  1. Injuries Ovarian cancer, mesothelioma
  2. Top Jury Verdict/Settlement $4.69 billion in compensatory and punitive damages
  3. Defendants Johnson & Johnson; Imerys Talc America; Colgate-Palmolive; Whittaker, Clark & Daniels; Vanderbilt Minerals

A bombshell report by Reuters news agency in late 2018 revealed that Johnson & Johnson knew for decades that its baby powder products were contaminated by asbestos, a mineral known to cause cancer, but the company failed to publicly disclose that information.

According to the Reuters story, Johnson & Johnson’s raw talc and talcum powder tested positive for trace amounts of asbestos on several occasions between 1971 and 2003. The article cited numerous internal company memos, reports and other documents disclosed during talc lawsuits that suggest the company knew of the danger.

Johnson & Johnson vigorously denied the allegations in a statement on its website and called the story an “absurd conspiracy theory.” The company continues to defend its baby powder as “safe and asbestos-free.” Johnson & Johnson powders are still being sold today.

On Oct. 18, 2019, Johnson & Johnson issued a voluntary recall for one lot of Johnson’s Baby Powder after a U.S. Food and Drug Administration test found trace levels of chrysotile asbestos contamination.

Companies named in lawsuits include Johnson & Johnson, Vanderbilt Minerals, Colgate-Palmolive and Imerys Talc America. Johnson & Johnson faces the largest number of talc cancer claims.

Although the defendants have won some cases, juries have returned billions of dollars in verdicts for plaintiffs, and lawsuits continue to pour in. Most settlements so far have been with individual plaintiffs for undisclosed amounts.

As of Oct. 15, 2019, Johnson & Johnson faces 13,730 cases consolidated in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. Hundreds more are pending in state courts.

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Who is Eligible to File a Talcum Powder Lawsuit?

People who used a cosmetic or commercial talcum powder product and developed ovarian cancer or mesothelioma may be eligible to file a talcum powder lawsuit.

In the case of ovarian cancer lawsuits, women must have used talc-containing products around the genital area daily or almost daily before developing ovarian cancer. It is important to note that women who used baby powders made from cornstarch are not eligible for these lawsuits because cornstarch-based powders don’t contain talc.

Talc Products Implicated in Ovarian Cancer Lawsuits
  • Johnson's Baby Powder
  • Shower to Shower
  • Gold Bond No Mess Power Spray
  • Gold Bond Body Powder
  • Gold Bond Extra Strength Body Powder

People who used talc-containing products and developed mesothelioma are also eligible to file a lawsuit. These products can be cosmetic, such as baby powder, or industrial, such as clay, chalk, paper, crayons, pottery, joint compounds and adhesives.

Only a lawyer can properly evaluate your claim. If you’ve developed ovarian cancer or mesothelioma after using talc-containing products, contact a lawyer immediately to preserve your legal rights.

Top Manufacturers, Suppliers and Brands of Talc Products Named in Lawsuits
Company Brands and Products
Johnson & Johnson Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower
Colgate-Palmolive Cashmere Bouquet
Imerys Talc North America Raw industrial and cosmetic talc
Whittaker, Clark & Daniels Raw cosmetic talc
Vanderbilt Minerals Raw industrial talc

Is There a Statute of Limitations for Talcum Powder Lawsuits?

Talcum powder lawsuits are product liability cases, and the statute of limitations is different in each state. Generally these statutes run from two to 10 years. The majority of states have two-year statutes.

Depending on the situation, the clock may start ticking either from the date of the cancer diagnosis or from the date you found out talcum powder might have contributed to your cancer.

In some cases, family members may file a wrongful death claim for the loss of a loved one from mesothelioma or ovarian cancer. These statutes of limitations are shorter — most average two years.

An attorney can help you determine the correct time frame for each state. Contact an attorney right away to avoid losing your right to file a lawsuit.

Attorney Holly Ennis explains reasons for huge verdicts in lawsuits over talcum powder.

Talcum Powder and Mesothelioma Cases

Litigation is ongoing in talcum powder lawsuits that claim industrial or cosmetic talc contaminated by asbestos led to mesothelioma. As of April 2018, juries had awarded more than $153 million in talcum powder mesothelioma claims.

People who filed these cases claim inhalation of talcum powder led them to develop mesothelioma and lung disease. Asbestos is the main cause of mesothelioma, but some lawsuits argue that with or without asbestos contamination, talc can also lead to the disease.

Plaintiffs cite studies that prove the association between talc and mesothelioma, mainly one by Hull and colleagues published in 2002, according to Claims & Litigation Management Alliance. The study found that talc miners and millers in upstate New York developed mesothelioma from talc even without asbestos contamination.

“Thousands of companies used cosmetic talc in their products over the last hundred years. The entire population could claim exposure, especially to defendants that sold personal care products that could be ingested, inhaled or exposed via air-borne contact.”

Source: American Bar Association

In 2006, a man who worked in a pottery studio filed the first talc mesothelioma case. He claimed exposure to talc made by Vanderbilt led to his mesothelioma diagnosis. He died during litigation, but his widow received $3.35 million.

The most recent lawsuits allege asbestos-contaminated cosmetic talc products can cause mesothelioma.

Stephen Lanzo III was one of the most recent plaintiffs to go to trial. In April 2018, a New Jersey jury awarded Lanzo and his wife $117 million. Lanzo’s lawsuit claimed he developed mesothelioma after using Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower for decades.

Johnson & Johnson and Imerys agreed to settle a similar case in December 2018 for $1.5 million. Ann Zoas, a 78-year-old from New York, claimed she developed mesothelioma following years of using Johnson’s Baby Powder.

Zoas said she used the baby powder daily between 1945 and 1948 and approximately “80 percent of the time” between 1949 and January 2017, according to court documents. Doctors diagnosed her with mesothelioma in March 2017.

Imerys confirmed the settlement to Bloomberg news, which broke the story. It was the first publicly reported settlement by Johnson & Johnson in talc litigation. There have been several confidential settlements.

For example, in March 2018, Vanderbilt Minerals reached a confidential settlement with Robert Lord. Lord worked with ceramic tiles in the 1970s that he said contained talc with asbestos.

Recent Talc and Mesothelioma Verdicts
$37.2 Million Verdict
In September 2019, a New Jersey jury awarded $37.2 million in compensatory damages to Douglas Barden, David Etheridge, D’Angela McNeill-George and Will Ronning. The plaintiffs claimed they developed mesothelioma after inhaling asbestos in Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower.
$117 Million Verdict
In April 2018, a New Jersey jury awarded $117 million to banker Stephen Lanzo III and his wife. Lanzo sued Johnson & Johnson and its talc supplier Imerys Talc. He said Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower led to his mesothelioma.
$22 Million Verdict
In December 2017, a California jury awarded Richard Booker over $22 million. Booker had sued Dexter Midland Chemical Co., Walter N. Boysen Paint Co., Vanderbilt Minerals and Imerys Talc. He worked as a paint maker and claimed he was exposed to talc contaminated with asbestos. Booker died of mesothelioma in 2016.
$18 Million Verdict
In October 2016, a Los Angeles jury awarded Philip Depoian $18 million against talc supplier Whittaker, Clark & Daniels. Doctors diagnosed Depoian with mesothelioma in May 2015. Depoian’s lawsuit said he was exposed to asbestos in talcum powder at the barbershop where his father worked.
$13 Million Verdict
In May 2015, a jury awarded Judith Winkel $13 million. The case was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount before a jury could decide on additional punitive damages. Winkel sued Colgate-Palmolive Co. Her lawsuit said the company’s Cashmere Bouquet product caused her mesothelioma. She regularly used the popular scented talcum powder from 1961 to 1976.

Talcum Powder Contributes to Ovarian Cancer

Lawsuits that claim talcum powder caused ovarian cancer outnumber the mesothelioma claims in part because mesothelioma is rare. Only about 3,000 people get the disease a year, according to the American Cancer Society. In contrast, more than 22,200 women will receive an ovarian cancer diagnosis each year.

Talcum Powder Lawsuit
Courts where ovarian cancer lawsuits are taking place:
  • Federal Court, U.S. District of New Jersey
  • State Court, Atlantic County in New Jersey
  • State Court, Los Angeles Superior Court in California
  • State Court, St. Louis Circuit Court in Missouri

The first ovarian cancer lawsuits did not allege asbestos-contaminated talc caused cancer. Rather, they claimed talc alone could travel into the ovaries and cause inflammation that led to cancer. According to lawsuits, the first studies linking ovarian cancer and talc surfaced in the 1980s, and defendants were aware their products could harm people.

Ovarian cancer lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson garnered substantial media attention with big number verdicts in St. Louis courts: $72 million, $70 million and $55 million. In some of these lawsuits, plaintiff’s expert witnesses testified they found talc particles in the ovaries of women with cancer.

“[Johnson & Johnson] should pull talc from the market before causing further anguish, harm, and death from a terrible disease.”

Source: Mark Lanier, plaintiff’s attorney

The largest verdict to date is $4.7 billion awarded in July 2018 to 22 women who say Johnson & Johnson’s talc products led to their ovarian cancer. Unlike the first cases, this claim was historic because it claimed asbestos — and not just talc — was to blame for ovarian cancer.

The federal multidistrict litigation in New Jersey — MDL No. 2738, In Re: Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Products Marketing, Sales Practices And Products Liability Litigation — is exclusively for ovarian and uterine cancer claims. The main defendants are Johnson & Johnson and its talc supplier Imerys Talc.

Nearly 14,000 claims are pending.

There have been some trials and verdicts in state courts, as well as some settlements. In June 2018, Bloomberg News reported that Imerys paid $5 million to settle claims by 22 women. The women alleged that Imerys supplied asbestos-laced talc to Johnson & Johnson that caused them to develop cancer. Bloomberg sourced the dollar figure to “two people familiar with the matter.”

Imerys and Johnson & Johnson both maintain their talc is free of asbestos and does not cause cancer.

Recent Talc and Ovarian Cancer Verdicts
$4.69 Billion Verdict
In July 2018, a St. Louis jury awarded $4.69 billion in punitive and compensatory damages to 22 plaintiffs, including the families of six women who died before the six-week trial. The women’s attorney argued that asbestos in talcum powder caused the women’s ovarian cancer. Johnson & Johnson attempted to overturn the verdict, but it was upheld.
$417 Million Jury Verdict
The largest single verdict came in the first California trial in August 2017 in the case of Eva Echeverria. The jury awarded her $417 million. Echeverria used Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower for more than 40 years. She died from ovarian cancer a month after winning the trial. But in October 2017, California Superior Court Judge Maren Nelson overturned the verdict. She said there was no convincing evidence J&J acted with malice. Echeverria’s lawyers are appealing that decision.
$110 Million Jury Verdict
In May 2017, a jury in St. Louis awarded $110 million in compensatory and punitive damages to Lois Slemp. Slemp alleged Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products caused her ovarian cancer. She claimed to have used Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower body powder for more than 40 years. A judge reversed the verdict in October 2019, and Slemp’s attorney will petition the court.
$72 Million Jury Verdict
Jacqueline Fox was the first woman to win an ovarian cancer verdict against J&J. Before she died, Fox stated that she used Johnson & Johnson products containing talcum powder for 35 years. In February 2016, a St. Louis jury awarded Fox’s family $72 million. “They could have at least put a warning label on the box but they didn’t. They did nothing.” Juror Jerome Kendrick told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch The verdict was overturned in October 2017. Plaintiffs intend to appeal this decision.
$70 Million Jury Verdict
In October 2016, jurors ruled in favor of Deborah Giannecchini. The jury ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay roughly $70 million and ordered codefendant Imerys Talc America, Inc., to pay $2.5 million. Giannecchini had used Johnson & Johnson’s powder on her genitals for about 40 years. In 2016, her lawyers said she had an 80 percent chance of dying within the next two years.
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Manufacturers and Talc Brands Defend Against Personal Injury Claims

People filed lawsuits against makers of major brands of talcum powder products, the largest of which is Johnson & Johnson. They also sued Imerys Talc and other mining companies that supply these manufacturers with raw talc.

Manufacturers say they intend to vigorously defend against lawsuits. Imerys Talc, Colgate-Palmolive and other companies have attempted to settle some cases confidentially. For example, in July 2018, Colgate-Palmolive paid a confidential settlement to Paul Garcia, who said he developed mesothelioma after using baby powder made by Mennen, a company previously tied to Colgate-Palmolive.

Johnson & Johnson has made no mention of a blanket settlement for its thousands of lawsuits thus far, despite the large verdicts against it.

“The Company believes that it has strong grounds on appeal to overturn these verdicts,” Johnson & Johnson said in its second quarter form 10-Q. “The Company has established an accrual for defense costs only in connection with product liability litigation associated with body powders containing talc.”

Attorney Holly Ennis describes how Johnson & Johnson has responded to the association between its products and cancer.

Class Action Claims for Cancer Risk

The majority of litigation in talcum powder cases has been focused on individual lawsuits that claim injuries from talc. But there have been at least four class action lawsuits filed over talc-related products and possible cancer risk. Two have been dismissed or absorbed into other cases. These cases claim the products are defective or dangerous but may not necessarily claim injuries.

  • April 2014
    California Talc Class Action – Mona Estrada claimed Johnson & Johnson failed to warn about the cancer risk of its talc products. A California federal judge moved the case to New Jersey making it part of the MDL underway there. A New Jersey federal judge dismissed Estrada’s claim in 2017 saying she did not suffer an actual injury.
  • September 2015
    Illinois Talc Class Action – Barbara Mihalich filed a class action suit claiming Johnson & Johnson profited unjustly from its talcum products. The case, including others who had signed onto it, was transferred to the New Jersey MDL in October 2016.
  • February 2018
    New Jersey Federal Class Action – Investors filed a class-action lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson. They accused the company of failing to disclose that its talcum powder products carried risks of ovarian cancer and mesothelioma.
  • June 2018
    Missouri Class Action – Cynthia Gibson, Heidi Amiro, Lois Arnstein and other plaintiffs filed a class action lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson. The lawsuit claims exposure to talc, asbestos and other carcinogens in Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower led to ovarian cancer. Plaintiffs say Johnson & Johnson failed to warn of the cancer risk.

Questions Talcum Powder Lawyers May Ask

Have you been diagnosed with ovarian cancer or mesothelioma?
People filing lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson and other talc manufacturers have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer or mesothelioma. Provide a copy of your medical records to confirm your official cancer diagnosis.

Did you use talcum powder for intimate personal hygiene?
To establish a connection between talcum powder use and ovarian cancer, your attorney will need to know if you used talcum powder as a personal hygiene product. Products such as Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower have been named in lawsuits. Bring a list of all talc-based products you’ve used to share with your attorney at your consultation.

How long did you use talcum powder?
Typically, individuals seeking compensation had used talcum powder for at least four years before receiving their cancer diagnosis. Bring any evidence you have that proves this timeframe to the initial consultation with your attorney.

When were you diagnosed with cancer?
Individuals have a certain amount of time between their cancer diagnosis and when they can file a lawsuit. This varies by state. Your talcum powder lawyer can let you know whether you’re within the statute of limitations to file a lawsuit.

Were you or your family member previously diagnosed with cancer?
Women who have previously had ovarian or cervical cancer or whose family members have had ovarian or cervical cancer have a higher chance of developing these cancers. Knowing about your and your family’s history with cancer can help your attorney with your case.

Have you been diagnosed with any other diseases?
In addition to ovarian cancer and mesothelioma, asbestos-contaminated talcum powder has also been linked to lung cancer, uterine cancer, cervical cancer, pulmonary talcosis and pneumonia. If you’ve been diagnosed with any of these other conditions, you should disclose this information to the lawyer working on your case.

Please seek the advice of a medical professional before making health care decisions.

Michelle Llamas, Senior Content Writer
Written By Michelle Llamas Senior Writer

Michelle Llamas has been writing articles and producing podcasts about drugs, medical devices and the FDA for seven years. She specializes in fluoroquinolone antibiotics and products that affect women’s health such as Essure birth control, transvaginal mesh and talcum powder. Michelle collaborates with experts, including board-certified doctors, patients and advocates, to provide trusted health information to the public. Some of her qualifications include:

  • American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) Engage Committee and Membership Committee member
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Health Literacy certificates
  • Original works published or cited in The Lancet, British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology and the Journal for Palliative Medicine
Edited By
Legally Reviewed By
Jayne Conroy, Named Shareholder of Simmons Hanly Conroy
Jayne Conroy, Esquire Trial Attorney and Pharmaceutical Litigation Expert

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