People suing talcum powder manufacturers claim exposure to talc gave them mesothelioma and ovarian cancer.
As of July 2018, juries ordered companies including Johnson & Johnson, Colgate-Palmolive and Vanderbilt Minerals to pay billions in talcum powder verdicts.
In April 2018, a New Jersey jury found Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower led to one man’s mesothelioma. The jury awarded $117 million.
In July 2018, another jury in Missouri awarded $4.69 billion to 22 women with ovarian cancer.
Companies have also paid out some confidential settlements for mesothelioma.
According to the lawsuits, companies were aware of studies that link talcum powder to mesothelioma and ovarian cancer. But, Johnson & Johnson and other companies chose not to add warnings to the product labels.
Mesothelioma Verdicts and Settlements
Talc deposits used to mine talcum powder may also contain asbestos. Asbestos causes mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer that often results in death.
Over the years, people have sued industrial talc suppliers and cosmetic companies, including J&J. Lawsuits claimed asbestos-tainted products caused mesothelioma.
Several of these lawsuits have ended in multimillion-dollar jury awards for the plaintiffs. There have also been a few confidential settlements.
Johnson & Johnson says its talcum powder has never contained asbestos.
- $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 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.
In addition to jury verdicts, companies have paid plaintiffs and their families confidential settlements.
In March 2018, Vanderbilt Minerals reached a confidential settlement with Robert Lord. Lord worked with ceramic tiles in the 1970s he said contained talc with asbestos.
“The Company and its legal counsel believe that these cases are without merit and intend to challenge them vigorously.”
Ovarian Cancer Verdicts and Settlements
A federal jury found that Johnson & Johnson’s body powder products were a factor in Berg’s condition. But J&J was not part of a conspiracy, according to the jury, which concluded the company had no liability.
Since then, J&J has lost several ovarian cancer trials. It has also won and overturned some 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.
- $417 Million Jury Verdict
- The largest 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.
- $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 found in favor of Deborah Giannecchini. The jury ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay roughly $70 million. They 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.
J&J’s First Talc Trial Victory
Not all J&J talcum powder lawsuits ended in plaintiff victories. In March 2017, St. Louis jurors found in favor of Johnson & Johnson in the case of Nora Daniels.
Doctors diagnosed Daniels with ovarian cancer in 2013. She underwent a hysterectomy, and as part of her treatment, doctors removed her ovaries and fallopian tubes.
Attorneys for Johnson & Johnson argued that stronger studies disproved the results of the epidemiological studies.
Please seek the advice of a medical professional before making health care decisions.