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Talc Powder Lawsuit: Johnson and Johnson Ordered to Pay $110 Million to VA Woman

Talcum powder has long served as a personal product used to combat moisture and eliminate unwanted odor. Made from talc (including magnesium, silicon, and other components), this powder is adept at absorbing moisture, which in turn can reduce discomfort, chafing, and rashes, for example.

As such, many people use lightly-scented talcum powder in place of deodorant, and traditionally, women have also used it in the genital region for the purposes of feminine hygiene. Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder is arguably one of the most prevalent examples of talcum powder on the market and has been for decades, thanks to its mild scent and reputation as a safe, gentle product.

Unfortunately, it seems that talcum powder is not as innocuous as the public believed, and Johnson & Johnson is facing a barrage of lawsuits from women who have developed cancer, possibly as a result of their ongoing use of talcum-based products. Just recently, a Virginia woman who developed cancer after decades of using Johnson & Johnson products won her lawsuit against the company and was awarded $110.5 million, the largest settlement so far.

Talcum Powder Linked to Cancer

To date, over 2,400 talc powder lawsuits have been filed against Johnson & Johnson and talc supplier Imerys Talc, stemming from research studies linking talcum powder to various cancers.

One compelling study from 1982 concluded that women who used talc-based products for feminine hygiene (in the genital region) increased their risk of ovarian cancer by as much as 92%.

While such studies yield questions about the amount of talcum powder used, and over what period of time, in 2006 the International Agency for Research on Cancer did classify talc as "possibly carcinogenic" when used in the genital region, based on existing studies. Both studies and the number of cases arising against Johnson & Johnson have led to a number of successful lawsuits for women claiming talcum powder is to blame for their cases of cancer.

Successful Lawsuits

The most recent conclusion, in which a St. Louis, Missouri jury awarded Virginia resident Lois Slemp $110.5 million based on her case of ovarian cancer, diagnosed in 2012, which has since spread to her liver, was just the latest (albeit the greatest) in a string of judgments against the company and its talc supplier. In this case, the jury found Imerys Talc to be 1% accountable for the incident and Johnson & Johnson 99% liable, resulting in compensatory damages of $5.4 million and punitive damages of $105 million against Johnson & Johnson and $50,000 against Imerys.

Past cases resulted in a $72 million win in February 2016 for the family of Jackie Fox, who died of ovarian cancer in 2015; a $55 million settlement in May 2016 to Gloria Ristesund, who developed ovarian cancer; and $70 million in compensation in October 2016 for Deborah Giannecchini, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

Johnson & Johnson spokesperson Carol Goodrich has previously stated, “We deeply sympathize with the women and families impacted by ovarian cancer.” However, the company is in the process of appealing each of the three prior judgments, and will likely appeal this latest loss as they face thousands of other lawsuits.

Ashcraft and Gerel is currently accepting cases related to talc powder and potential links to cancer. Our firm currently is currently pursuing over 300 active talc powder lawsuit cases, with senior partner Michelle Parfitt recently being named co-lead counsel in a multidiscrict litigation lawsuit. If you would like to find out more information regarding Johnson and Johnson talc powder lawsuits, or to speak to one of our attorneys, please contact us today at 800-829-7037.