Talcum Powder Verdicts & Settlements

Juries have awarded billions in verdicts to people who say talcum powder caused mesothelioma and ovarian cancer. Manufacturers in lawsuits include Johnson & Johnson, Colgate-Palmolive and Vanderbilt Minerals. In April 2018, a jury awarded $117 million to one man who said Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder caused his mesothelioma. Three months later, a jury in St. Louis ordered J&J to pay $4.69 billion to 22 plaintiffs who blamed asbestos in talcum powder for ovarian cancer.

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.

For example, juries have ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay more than $5 billion to ovarian cancer plaintiffs. Women in the lawsuits used Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower for decades.

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.

In December 2018, Johnson & Johnson and its talc supplier, Imerys SA, agreed to settle one woman’s mesothelioma case for $1.5 million. It was the first publicly reported Johnson & Johnson talc lawsuit settlement.

Companies have also paid out some confidential settlements for mesothelioma and ovarian cancer.

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.

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

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.

Recent Talc and Mesothelioma Verdicts
$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.

Confidential Settlements

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.”

Source: Colgate-Palmolive March 2018 SEC filing

In September 2018, Bloomberg news reported Johnson & Johnson’s talc supplier, Imerys, reached a confidential settlement with a California woman who claimed she developed mesothelioma after years of using Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and former Shower-to-Shower line of products.

The talc supplier reportedly reached the settlemet with Carolyn Weirick during the last few days of her trial. Sources told Bloomberg the settlement included a payment of “at least $5 million.” Weirick was seeking $25 million in compensation for pain and suffering and punitive damages.

Ann Zoas, the New York plaintiff who received a reported $1.5 million settlement from Johnson & Johnson and Imerys, has a similar story. The 78-year-old used Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder on herself for most of her life. She also used the product on her children and grandchildren.

In court documents, she recalled breathing in a “smokey cloud” of the powder when playing house with her friends as a little girl. She was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma in March 2017.

News of Zoas’ settlement came in late December 2018 following an eye-opening report by Reuters news that Johnson & Johnson knew for decades it talc was sometimes contaminated with asbestos but did nothing about it. The investigative report was based on internal memos, reports and other company documents produced during lawsuits. Johnson & Johnson vigorously denies the allegations.

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.

In June 2018, Bloomberg news reported that Imerys paid $5 million to settle claims by 22 women. The women claimed 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.
$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.
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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.

Spilled talcum powder on dark surface
Although asbestos free, cases claim talcum powder still causes ovarian cancer

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
Kevin Connolly
Kevin Connolly Managing Editor
Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Don Hill
Dr. Don Hill Internal Medicine & Oncology

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