Another Talc-Ovarian Cancer Court Decision, and It’s a Whopper

  • June 27, 2017
  • Product Liability

In March of 2017, we provided you with information about the growing number of ovarian cancer cases brought against Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) because of their baby powder product. At that time, there had been three cases with large-dollar verdicts against JNJ, with $72 million the biggest of the three. As of May, 2017, a Missouri jury has ordered JNJ to pay a Virginia woman with ovarian cancer over $110 million due to her usage of the company’s talc-based products for decades.

Currently there are roughly 2,400 lawsuits against JNJ for not warning consumers about the cancer risks involving the company’s baby powder products. Many of the 2,400 suits are pending in St. Louis, the location where JNJ has had to deal with big-money trials. This latest case was also set in St. Louis.

99 Percent at Fault

Lois Slemp of Wise, Virginia, who brought the suit, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012. The cancer spread to her liver, and she is currently undergoing chemotherapy. She claimed that, after using JNJ’s talc-based products for approximately 40 years, she developed ovarian cancer. The products were Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower powder. Two companies were involved in the suit: JNJ and talc supplier Imerys Talc.

Compensatory damages of $5.4 million were awarded to Slemp, who was too sick to attend the trial, for her medical expenses and related costs. But the jury also decided that JNJ was 99 percent at fault, with Imerys Talc only 1 percent at fault for the cancer. Thus, punitive damages of $105 million were assessed against JNJ, with Imerys assessed only $50,000.

What is Talc?

Talcum powder, made from the mineral talc, is used to prevent chafing and rashes because it absorbs moisture so well and makes the products containing it feel silky against the skin. A variety of personal products contain talc. It appears to be safe except when used in the female genitourinary region. There does not appear to be any risk when applied to infants; risk develops after many years of usage.

In its natural form, talc contains asbestos, but personal and household talcum products have not contained asbestos since the 1970s, so asbestos is not a factor.

What Comes Next?

While several multimillion-dollar settlements and verdicts have occurred against JNJ, not all cases have been successful. However, where success has been found, it has been because plaintiffs have succeeded in demonstrating that JNJ failed to warn of the dangers of using talcum powder in the genitourinary region. Makers of products have a legal obligation to warn against any known harm created by their products. It remains to be seen whether the latest verdicts indicate a trend when it comes to the over 2,000 cases involving talcum powder and cancer. In the meantime, to be on the safe side, you might reconsider using talcum powder and baby powder if you apply it to the genitourinary region.

Talk to Us. We’re Listening to You.

The only way that we can hold the corporations who manufacture the baby powder and talcum powder products responsible for cases of ovarian cancer is to take them to court. When it comes to faulty products, individuals in Maryland—and in all fifty states—that are harmed by such items have the right to make a claim against the manufacturer.

If you or a family member have suffered from ovarian cancer and have been or currently are a long-time user of talc, call Baltimore product injury attorney Steve Heisler. At the Law Offices of Steven H. Heisler, we know the amount of emotional trauma and expense from medical care that can arise from ovarian cancer. Keep in mind, however, that there is a statute of limitations – or a time limit – for filing product liability claims, so you should not delay. Contact the Law Offices of “The Injury Lawyer,” Steven H. Heisler of Baltimore, Maryland, for a free initial consultation by calling 1-410-625-4878.