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Talcum Powder Lawsuits

People have filed thousands of lawsuits in recent years claiming they or a loved one developed ovarian cancer after routinely using talcum powder products. Juries have already returned hundreds of millions of dollars in verdicts for people injured by talc.

*Please seek the advice of a medical professional before discontinuing the use of this drug or medical device.

If you used talcum powder to improve feminine hygiene and later developed the following complication, you may be entitled to compensation.

  • Ovarian Cancer
Are you suffering from ovarian cancer related to talcum powder use?

Number of Lawsuits About 5,000 pending in state and federal court

Plaintiff Injuries Ovarian cancer

Defendants Johnson & Johnson; Imerys Talc America

MDL Location U.S. District Court District of New Jersey

Litigation Status Ongoing

Class-Action Status Two class-action lawsuits filed in 2014 in California and Illinois

Bellwether Trial July to August 2017 in Los Angeles, California

Top Jury Verdict $417 million in compensatory and punitive damages

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Written by

Senior Content Writer

Edited by

Kevin Connolly Managing Editor

Legally Reviewed by

Tess Schulman, PhD Expert Contributor

This page features

11 Cited Research Articles

  • Studies since the 1960s have associated talcum powder used for feminine hygiene with ovarian cancer risks
  • More than 5,600 people have filed lawsuits claiming talcum powder caused cancer
  • People have won verdicts totaling more than $700 million in talc-related lawsuits

Companies like Johnson & Johnson and Colgate-Palmolive have promoted their talcum powder products for feminine hygiene for decades. But as early as the 1960s, researchers began finding a link between talc products and an increased risk of ovarian cancer.

Since 2013, several major talc lawsuits have gone to trial, highlighting the cancer risks of talc by delivering punishing verdicts against the companies that manufacture talcum powder. In many cases, juries have found that companies knew or should have known about talc’s risks, but did little or nothing to warn consumers about the dangers of their products.

Status of Talc Lawsuits

By late-2017, juries had awarded more than $700 million in verdicts against talc manufacturers. Meanwhile, the number of new lawsuits filed in a major federal talc litigation grew by more than 3,400 percent – from just 99 to more than 3,500 – in less than a year. And state courts saw hundreds of cases swelling their dockets.

In all, more than 5,600 lawsuits had been filed against two major talc product manufacturers – Johnson & Johnson and Colgate-Palmolive. Trials were underway in many of the cases, and some settlements had been made.

Where talc-related lawsuits are taking place

State Court System Hearing Cases Description of Lawsuits
New Jersey Federal Court, U.S. District of New Jersey Multidistrict litigation (MDL) includes more than 3,200 lawsuits from around the U.S.
New Jersey State Court, Atlantic County 200+ state lawsuits have been consolidated into a multicounty (MCL) litigation
California State Court, Los Angeles Superior Court 300+ state lawsuits have been combined in a Consolidated Litigation in Los Angeles
Missouri State Court, St. Louis Circuit Court 1,700-plus lawsuits from plaintiffs around the U.S. filed in Missouri were centralized in St. Louis courts

In filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Johnson & Johnson reported a total of 5,500 lawsuits against the company. Colgate-Palmolive reported it faced 170 suits and had settled 43 cases.

As of November 2017, there were 3,520 talc lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson pending in a multidistrict litigation (MDL) in New Jersey federal court. MDLs, MCLs and other consolidated cases allow several, similar cases to move more quickly and cost effectively through the legal process.

The federal MDL is still in the early stages and none of those cases have made it to trial yet. Most of the verdicts have come in Missouri and California.

Why People Are Suing Talcum Powder Manufacturers

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The majority of talc lawsuits claim women who used talc products daily for a year or more developed ovarian or uterine cancer. These are the claims in the New Jersey MDL.

Other lawsuits claim similar long-term use caused mesothelioma, an incurable type of lung cancer. Asbestos is the only known cause of mesothelioma, but talc and asbestos are often found close to where talc is mined. The mesothelioma lawsuits claim talc was contaminated with asbestos.

Accusations in Lawsuits Against Talcum Powder Manufacturers

People are suing companies over personal injuries they suffered or the wrongful death of a loved one who routinely used particular brands of talcum powder.

People filing talc lawsuits claim manufacturers:

  • Marketed products for feminine hygiene
  • Knew, or should have known, its use could increase the risk of ovarian or uterine cancer
  • Failed to warn the public of a cancer risk with talcum powder products

People who allege talcum powder use caused their mesothelioma claim companies didn’t do enough to prevent asbestos contamination and failed to warn users of the cancer risk.

Manufacturers and Talc Brands Named in Lawsuits

Lawsuits have been filed against makers of major brands of talcum powder products as well as the mining companies that supply these manufacturers with their raw talc.

Top Manufacturers, Suppliers and Brands of Talc Products Named in Lawsuits

Talc Companies Being Sued Talc Brands Named in Lawsuits
Johnson & Johnson Johnson’s Baby Powder
Shower to Shower Body Powder
Colgate-Palmolive Cashmere Bouquet
Imerys Talc North America Raw talc sold to cosmetic companies
Whittaker, Clark & Daniels Raw talc sold to cosmetic companies

Talcum Powder Verdicts and Settlements

Juries have awarded roughly $764 million to people who have sued claiming they developed cancer after routinely using talcum powder. Most settlements so far have been with individual plaintiffs to head off a trial and have been for undisclosed amounts.

Timeline of major talc lawsuit verdicts and settlements

  • 2013

    A jury awards a New Jersey woman $2 million after determining asbestos from her husband’s work clothes led to her mesothelioma. Her husband worked in a factory making Old Spice and Desert Flower talcum powders.

  • October 2013

    A federal jury finds Johnson & Johnson talcum powder products were responsible for a South Dakota woman’s ovarian cancer, but awarded no monetary damages.

  • May 2015

    Jury awards Judith Winkel $13 million after she claimed Colgate-Palmolive’s Cashmere Bouquet caused her cancer.

  • November 2015

    A New York jury orders Whittaker, Clark & Daniels to pay family of Joan Robusto $7 million after deciding asbestos contaminated talc used in Desert Flower talcum powder.

  • February 2016

    A Missouri jury awards $72 million to the family of a woman who claimed Johnson & Johnson talcum powder caused her ovarian cancer.

  • May 2016

    A Missouri jury awards $55 million, and determines Johnson & Johnson failed to provide a cancer warning, leading to Gloria Ristesund’s ovarian cancer.

  • October 2016

    California jury awards $18 million to Philip Depoian who claimed Whittaker, Clark & Daniels supplied talc that caused his mesothelioma.

  • October 2016

    The $72 million verdict is overturned, but the family appeals to the Missouri Supreme Court.

  • October 2016

    A Missouri jury found Deborah Giannecchini’s ovarian cancer was a result of using Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products and awards her $70 million.

  • March 2017

    Johnson & Johnson wins its first talc lawsuit when a Missouri jury rejects Nora Daniels claim that its talc products caused her ovarian cancer.

  • May 2017

    Another Missouri jury awards a $110 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson to Lois Slemp who claimed the company’s talc products caused her ovarian cancer.

  • August 2017

    Eva Echeverria wins the largest talc verdict to date, $417 million, after a jury found Johnson & Johnson talc products responsible for her ovarian cancer.

  • September 2017

    The court overturns Echeverria’s $417 million verdict and orders a new trial saying some evidence had been improperly admitted in the original trial.

  • November 2017

    Colgate-Palmolive settles New Jersey lawsuit claiming its products caused mesothelioma for an undisclosed amount.

  • November 2017

    Johnson & Johnson wins California lawsuit claiming its products caused mesothelioma.

Talc Class Action Lawsuits

There have been two class action lawsuits filed over talc-related products and its possible cancer risk. Both have been dismissed or absorbed into other cases.

  • 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.

Class action lawsuits involve one or a few people filing a single lawsuit, then other parties joining it. The great majority of talc cases have involved thousands of people filing their own, individual lawsuits. Most of these have then been moved into a combined litigation such as the federal MDL or the state litigations in New Jersey, California or Missouri.

Studies and Government Regulation on Talc’s Cancer Risk

Picture of the World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland
World health organization (WHO) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland

Studies since the 1960s dozens of studies have found an association between the use of talc products for feminine hygiene and ovarian cancer. In 2006, the United Nation’s World Health Organization (WHO) declared that talc used in the genital region “possibly” causes cancer.

In the U.S., consumer talc products are considered a cosmetic under the law, so the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has very little authority to regulate it. Under the law, talc products do not have to undergo FDA review or receive the agency’s approval before going on the market.

Talcum powder manufacturers are largely self-regulated through an industry group, the Personal Care Products Council. The council has been named along with Johnson & Johnson and Imerys Talc America as a defendant in many of the lawsuits currently underway.

Author

Terry Turner is an Emmy-winning, former television journalist. He is an associate member of the American Bar Association, the ABA’s Health Law group and a member of the Alliance of Professional Health Advocates. He holds six certificates in Health Literacy for Healthcare Professionals from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As a Washington-based investigative reporter, he routinely reported on health and medical policy issues before Congress, the FDA and other federal agencies. Terry received his B.A. in Media Arts from Lyon College.


Legally Reviewed By

Hide Sources

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Did you develop Ovarian Cancer after using Talcum Powder?
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