Talcum Powder Lawsuits

People filing talcum powder lawsuits claim they were diagnosed with cancer after using talc-based Johnson's Baby Powder. In May 2024, Johnson & Johnson proposed a nearly $6.5 billion bankruptcy settlement of its talc-related ovarian cancer claims. Currently, more than 57,000 cancer lawsuits still remain pending in federal litigation.

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Last Modified: July 9, 2024
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Latest J&J Talcum Powder Lawsuit Updates

Johnson & Johnson (J&J) faced 57,624 pending talcum powder lawsuits in multidistrict litigation in New Jersey as of July 2024. MDL 2738 is before Judge Michael A. Shipp in U.S. District Court.

On May 1, 2024, Johnson & Johnson proposed a $6.48 billion settlement for lawsuits claiming its talcum powder products caused ovarian cancer. If approved, the settlement will be paid out over 25 years. Johnson & Johnson’s subsidiary, LTL Management, LLC, would file for bankruptcy to absorb J&J’s liabilities. To move forward, 75% of plaintiffs would have to vote to accept it within 90 days. Settlement experts with sources close to the litigation suggest the offer may be approved by the end of July. The offer does not cover cases claiming mesothelioma.

This was not the first time J&J offered a settlement that LTL Management bankruptcy would fund. Most recently, LTL Management filed for bankruptcy in April 2023 as part of ongoing efforts to seek Chapter 11 protection. After a judge denied the bankruptcy efforts twice, J&J’s offer of about $9 billion to settle the cases also fell through.

Talcum Powder Lawsuits Timeline

  • July 2024:
    July has been a very busy month for talc-related lawsuit updates. A federal judge allowed J&J's $6.48 billion, 25-year lawsuit settlement plan to proceed despite plaintiffs' objections. The plan aims to settle thousands of talcum powder cancer lawsuits through a subsidiary's bankruptcy. Critics point out that two previous attempts to settle through bankruptcy failed, and the offer denies plaintiffs fair compensation. Also this month, a judge dismissed J&J's subsidiary LTL Management's lawsuits against Dr. Jacqueline Moline, a scientist who wrote an influential paper on the link between asbestos contaminated talc and cancer. J&J accused Moline of fraud and libel, among other things, but the judge found the lawsuit presented no evidence to prove its case. At the beginning of July, The World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer re-classified talc from a "possible carcinogen" to a "probable carcinogen," the second highest level for certainty that a substance causes cancer. Scientists reached their decision in part from limited evidence that talc increases risk of ovarian cancer.
  • June 2024:
    A class action lawsuit filed on June 17 in New Jersey called for J&J to pay for medical monitoring for talc-related cancer. The lawsuit would provide cancer monitoring for women who've used J&J talc products, but have not filed a cancer lawsuit. It could cost billions of dollars and affect tens of thousands of women.
  • June 2024:
    J&J officially reached an agreement with 42 states and the District of Columbia to settle deceptive talc marketing claims for $700 million. Each state in the settlement will receive between $3 million and $78 million. The agreement would not affect individual lawsuits in the ongoing MDL.
  • June 2024:
    On June 4, An Oregon jury ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay Kyung Lee $260 million. Lee, a 48-year-old woman, claimed that her mesothelioma was caused by her lifelong use of the company's baby powder tainted with asbestos.
  • May 2024:
    A new NIH study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology linked talcum powder use to ovarian cancer, potentially bolstering lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson. Experts said the findings could bolster plaintiffs’ claims, affecting the proposed $6.48 billion settlement and altering the course of litigation.
  • May 2024:
    J&J offered ovarian cancer plaintiffs a $6.48 billion settlement over 25 years, facilitated through the bankruptcy of subsidiary LTL Management. This third attempt at a settlement would require three-quarters of the plaintiffs claiming ovarian cancer injuries to agree to the offer within 90 days.
  • April 2024:
    An Illinois trial ended in victory for the family of Theresa Garcia, a woman who died of mesothelioma allegedly linked to her use of J&J's talcum-based baby powder. The jury ordered J&J and its Kenvue division to pay the family $45 million in damages.
  • April 2024:
    A Sarasota, Florida, jury ruled that Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based baby powder was not the cause of Pat Matthey's cancer death in 2019. In 2016, doctors diagnosed her with ovarian cancer, and her son filed a wrongful death lawsuit against J&J on behalf of his mother's estate.
  • March 2024:
    A Florida trial involving plaintiff Bob Sugarman who sued J&J on behalf of his deceased wife Marilyn Seskin ended in a mistrial on March 5 when the jury was unable to reach an agreement. Seskin was diagnosed with a rare form of ovarian cancer allegedly caused by Johnson's Baby Powder, according to the plaintiff.
  • February 2024:
    The judge in the talcum powder MDL set various deadlines for depositions and Daubert motions through September 2024. Attorneys think the next trial will be at the end of 2024 at the earliest.
  • January 2024:
    J&J tentatively agreed to a $700 million settlement with over 40 U.S. states regarding its talcum powder marketing. While the settlement doesn't directly affect individual talcum powder lawsuits, it could avert future case filings claiming that the company knew of a link between its talc powder products and cancer.
  • December 2023:
    Several bellwether trials were scheduled in 2024 and 2025. J&J's LTL Management subsidiary was denied bankruptcy proceedings twice and expected to file a third time to push its $9 billion settlement through. In the meantime, cases had been quietly settling for confidential amounts.
  • April 2023:
    According to a regulatory filing, LTL Management refiled for bankruptcy protection in a New Jersey court. Under a proposed agreement, J&J would pay about $8.9 billion over 25 years to current and future plaintiffs to settle talcum powder lawsuits.
  • April 2023:
    In a New Jersey bankruptcy court, Judge Michael Kaplan nullified the LTL Management bankruptcy he had previously affirmed.
  • March 2023:
    The U.S. Court of Appeals declined LTL Management’s request to stay a bankruptcy ruling while the company sought a U.S. Supreme Court review.
  • January 2023:
    In Philadelphia, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit dismissed LTL Management’s bankruptcy status. The ruling temporarily prevented J&J from exploiting bankruptcy law to resolve the multibillion-dollar talc powder lawsuits it faces.
  • September 2022:
    Plaintiffs' attorneys in J&J talc baby powder lawsuits presented their arguments against LTL Management’s bankruptcy in court.
  • October 2021:
    J&J created the subsidiary LTL Management, which assumed the company’s then-$4.5 billion potential liabilities from talcum powder lawsuits. LTL Management filed for “Texas two-step bankruptcy” soon after.
  • June 2021:
    In a landmark ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court declined J&J’s request to overturn a $2.1 billion Missouri court award to 22 women with ovarian cancer.
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In 2019, Johnson & Johnson issued a recall of 33,000 bottles of Johnson’s Baby Powder after testing found asbestos in samples. While J&J continues to deny any liability and insists it did not sell cancer-causing products, it halted the sale of talc-based Johnson’s Baby Powder in North America in May 2020. In 2023, it switched to a cornstarch-based alternative and discontinued worldwide sales of its talc-based Johnson’s Baby Powder.

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Why Are People Filing Talc Lawsuits?

People are filing talc lawsuits after they developed ovarian cancer after using talc-based products. Most of these cases are consolidated into multidistrict litigation in MDL 2738 before Judge Michael A. Shipp in U.S. District Court in New Jersey. Johnson & Johnson is the main defendant, though some other potentially liable manufacturers, suppliers, distributors and other parties are named in some lawsuits.

According to mass torts and product liability attorney Daniel Nigh, J&J has already attempted to defend their cases using general causation. That is, whether talc can cause ovarian cancer and/or mesothelioma.

“There are other things that cause ovarian cancer. So, that’s the way in which J&J is trying to defend against these cases. They’ve lost multiple trials. And there are some specific cases where there are other clear explanations that are probably stronger explanations for the plaintiff’s ovarian cancer. But for the majority of these lawsuits, that’s not going to be the case,” Nigh told Drugwatch.

“It’s not a strong defense. Multiple literature studies and epidemiological studies have shown an increased risk of ovarian cancer,” Nigh added. “And there is such a clear, plausible, mechanistic explanation of asbestos leading to mesothelioma.”

Daniel Nigh
“There are other things that cause ovarian cancer. So, that's the way in which J&J is trying to defend against these cases. They've lost multiple trials. And there are some specific cases where there are other clear explanations that are probably stronger explanations for the plaintiff’s ovarian cancer. But for the majority of these lawsuits, that's not going to be the case.”

Punitive Damages in Talc Verdicts

In many talcum powder cases, courts issued high-dollar verdicts in favor of those diagnosed with cancer or their families. Punitive damages hold defendants accountable for products they knew contained toxic asbestos that they failed to caution regulators and consumers about.

Internal memos analyzed by Reuters and available to plaintiffs’ lawyers show that J&J researched and uncovered asbestos contamination in its talc products.

Who Is Eligible To File a Talc Lawsuit?

You may be eligible to file a talc lawsuit if you developed ovarian cancer or mesothelioma after regularly using or working with talc-based products. You may also be eligible to file a talc claim if you lost a loved one to cancer after asbestos exposure.

To make a strong case and maximize potential compensation, plaintiffs should hire an attorney. It takes legal expertise and relevant case experience to document asbestos exposure or ovarian cancer from talc products.

Your eligibility to file a talc lawsuit also depends on your state’s statute of limitations. The average statute of limitations for a wrongful death talc lawsuit is about two years from the cancer patient’s date of death. It usually takes 20 to 60 years from the time of asbestos exposure to develop detectable cancer symptoms.

Choosing a Talcum Powder Lawyer

Before choosing a law firm to represent you, consider their experience in personal injury litigation against major corporations. Working with top talcum powder lawyers is essential because defendants will deny liability and often have adequate resources to contest all claims, no matter how long it takes.

Ask whether they have nationwide resources and ask them the value of talc lawsuit settlements and verdicts they’ve secured for clients over the years. If you’re in the hospital or too sick to travel, you may need a lawyer with virtual consultation options and the flexibility to come to you.

Top talcum powder law firms to consider include Drugwatch’s legal partner, Simmons Hanly Conroy. The firm has secured millions in settlements and verdicts for its clients and has many years of experience litigating product liability claims, including those against Johnson & Johnson and other pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers.

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