Over the last few years, Johnson & Johnson has been named in a large number of lawsuits over their baby powder and talcum powder. These lawsuits revolve around the fact that the company knew their products could be cancer causing and did nothing to warn their customers.
Ashcraft and Gerel, LLP. (A&G) is one of the leading law firms handling the talcum powder cases in the Virginia, Maryland and D.C. areas. They represent several plaintiffs in cases against Johnson and Johnson. They actually issued a press release recently regarding their upcoming trial against the powder giant in January of this year.
Although Johnson and Johnson’s Baby Powder has been around for over a century, people are just now becoming familiar with the issues surrounding their powder products. Experts have discovered that the talcum powder increases a woman’s chances of getting ovarian cancer by as much as 40%. A&G is at the epicenter of this litigation.
A&G currently represents three plaintiffs whose case is going to court January 22, 2019. The case is going before a judge who has already handled cases against Johnson and Johnson in which the company was held liable for over $4.7 billion in damages. The firm has the experience necessary to handle these types of cases.
The heart of the talcum powder litigation is in Federal Court in New Jersey. There is a class action case there pending in which there are over 9,000 plaintiffs. At the helm of this litigation is A&G’s senior partner Michelle Parfitt, Esq. In conjunction with P. Leigh O’Dell of the Alabama firm Beasley Allen, Parfitt expects to prevail over the cosmetic giant once again.
What Sparked the Talcum Powder Lawsuits?
A lot of people have asked why talcum powder all of a sudden became dangerous. And, the truth is, it didn’t just become dangerous recently. It has been dangerous for decades, people just weren’t aware of it. The manufacture of Johnson’s Baby Powder, Johnson and Johnson, was aware of the dangers of their product but chose not to let their consumers know.
Most of the problems addressed in the talcum powder lawsuits have to do with ovarian cancer. Women, obviously, make up the majority of the plaintiffs against the cosmetic behemoth. Women used Johnson and Johnson’s powder for feminine hygiene reasons. This caused them to apply the powder directly to their private areas, making them even more susceptible to ovarian cancer.
The first time talcum powder was linked to ovarian cancer was back in 1982. A study at that time reported a possible link between long-term use of talcum powder and the development of ovarian cancer. This study was conducted by Dr. Daniel Cramer at Brigham and Women’s hospital. The link was reported again in 2016 when studies found that women who used talcum powder in their private areas had a one-third higher risk of developing ovarian cancer as opposed to women who hadn’t used the product long-term.
The reason why the product can cause cancer is because of the makeup of the talc. Talc is made up of three basic ingredients: oxygen, magnesium, and silicon. These ingredients aren’t what makes it dangerous. The problem is that talc sometimes naturally contains asbestos which can cause cancer. When applied to women’s genital areas, the talc can cause irritation that can lead to cancer.
As more and more women were developing ovarian cancer, they started to file lawsuits in Canada and the United States against the largest talcum powder manufacturers. Most of the suits named the giant Johnson and Johnson, although other parties, such as Valeant Pharmaceuticals have been named as well.
Last year, a lawsuit was filed in St. Louis against Johnson and Johnson. The jury awarded 22 female plaintiffs $4.7 billion in damages. Despite this judgment, Johnson and Johnson still maintain that their products are safe. They deny that their baby powder contains any asbestos.
The lawsuit was based more on the fact that the company failed to warn its customers than it was on the fact that it openly causes ovarian cancer. With decades worth of research showing a link between talc and cancer, the court found that Johnson and Johnson had a duty to warn their customers of this potential danger. Once the warning was made, customers could make the decision for themselves as to whether or not they chose to use the product.
How Many Talcum Powder Lawsuits Have Been Filed?
Over the last few years, thousands of talcum powder lawsuits have been filed. Most involve Johnson and Johnson in some way. And most name the failure to warn of the potential dangers of ovarian cancer as the cause of action.
For a long time, Johnson and Johnson were able to successfully defend the talcum powder lawsuits. The judgment in the recent case for over $4.7 billion was the first large judgment against Johnson and Johnson. And, the company is appealing the verdict. No money has been paid out as of yet.
When the award was announced, a lot of people expect the stock value of Johnson and Johnson to plummet. But it didn’t. It wasn’t until this past December when a report was released stating that the company was aware of and worried about the presence of asbestos in their powder that their stock plummeted. It dropped 9% the day the report was issued.
The stock drop cost Johnson and Johnson about $30 billion. This is more than five times that amount of the jury award in the St. Louis case. It is expected that the company may lose just $10-20 billion in jury awards over ovarian cancer caused by their baby powder. When you put this into perspective, it’s just a drop in the bucket for a company like Johnson and Johnson.
What Does a Talcum Powder Lawyer Do?
A lot of people wonder why a lawyer would specialize in talcum powder lawsuits. Are that really that many lawsuits out there? Well, yes and no. Whether or not people continue to file lawsuits against companies like Johnson and Johnson depends on how the pending cases are resolved. If the company settles these cases, they will open the doors for more filings.
In the past, when a plaintiff won a talcum powder case against Johnson and Johnson, the giant would appeal the case. Most of the time, the large company won their appeal. Part of this may be because there weren’t experienced attorneys handling those earlier cases. Now that the issue has become so pervasive, there are experienced attorneys ready to take the large cosmetic company on.
Firms like Ashcraft and Gerel aren’t afraid to go up against companies like Johnson and Johnson. They have one of their senior partners involved in the New Jersey litigation in New Jersey. A&G has been around for over seventy years. They have decades of experience handling product liability cases. They are not intimidated by companies like Johnson and Johnson or their lawyers.
Now that the massive judgment has been issued against Johnson and Johnson, there is an expectation that the Forrest case pending in the same court will be successful. In this case, A&G is representing three women who are suffering from ovarian cancer. All were exposed to prolonged use of the talcum powders. Once this happens, there is no reason to think that the other cases against Johnson and Johnson will be successful.
A talcum powder lawyer specializes in product liability cases. These are cases where products have injured plaintiffs. There are a handful of common types of product liability cases, including:
- Defective design
- Manufacturing defect
- Failure to warn
- Dangerous drugs
An experienced product liability attorney knows how to handle all of these types of cases. There is a lot of scientific evidence that makes up these types of cases. Attorneys have to understand the lingo, the science and the concepts behind it. Otherwise, they simply can’t understand how these cases work. If they don’t understand the causation behind the cases, how can they represent their clients?
Is There Proof that Ovarian Cancer is Caused by Talcum Powder?
As we said earlier, in order to handle cases like the talcum powder cases, the lawyers have to understand what they’re dealing with. It’s not enough to just say that talcum powder causes ovarian cancer. You have to be able to prove it. Experienced talcum powder lawyers have to rely on experts to help them do this.
Whether or not talcum powder causes ovarian cancer depends on who you ask. If you ask the executives at Johnson and Johnson, they’ll say no – talc does not cause ovarian cancer. If you ask the people who have released the scientific studies, they’ll tell you that yes – talc does cause ovarian cancer.
Let’s take a look at what we can consider impartial evidence regarding talcum powder and it’s ties to ovarian cancer. The National Center for Health Research has been studying this issue for quite some time. They have published some helpful information regarding ovarian cancer and it’s links to talcum powder:
- About 1% of all women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in their lifetime
- This is much lower than the 12% of women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer
- There is no test for ovarian cancer like there is for breast cancer – it isn’t until cancer appears that you can be diagnosed
- If the ovarian cancer is found super early, there is a 97% chance of surviving beyond 5 years
- If the cancer is not found until it has spread to other parts of your body, this rate drops to about 30%
- There is evidence that women who use talcum powder for a long period of time are 30% greater risk of developing ovarian cancer
- This means that your odds increase from about 1.3% to 1.7%
- This could potentially lead to 4,000 more ovarian cancer per year for every million women who use powder
With these statistics in mind, it’s not a stretch to conclude that Johnson and Johnson’s baby powder and Shower to Shower could cause ovarian cancer. It is this evidence that has caused juries to award plaintiffs millions and billions in damages.
With all This Proof, How Can Johnson and Johnson Deny Liability?
With so much evidence pointing to a link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer, how can Johnson and Johnson deny liability? That’s a question lots of women have asked themselves. And the answer is – it makes more sense financially for them to do this.
If you think about it, Johnson and Johnson make millions of dollars every year on their baby powder and other talcum products. If they were to admit that their products caused ovarian cancer (or any cancer) how could they leave their products on the market?
To put things into perspective, here are the sales figures for talcum powder over the last few years:
- 2011, their baby powder lines generated about $2.5 billion dollars
- This number dropped 20% in 2018 to about $1.9 billion
- The decline is thought to be due to the high number of lawsuits filed against the company
Keep in mind, these figures don’t account for all products that contain talc. It is just for the baby powder line. Lines such as Shower to Shower generate billions more every year in revenue.
If Johnson and Johnson were to just stop making these products, what would happen? They would be guaranteed to lose $10-20 billion every decade going forward. That is guaranteed lost revenue. Plus, they’d essentially be admitting to liability for every plaintiff that files suit against them. This would lead to billions or even trillions in judgments.
A company cannot survive if they’re subjected to this kind of liability. They may as well shut their doors if they stand up and say, “Yes, our products kill people.” It is actually smarter for them to insist that their products are safe. It may not be the moral thing to do, but it is the economical thing to do.
Sadly, as much as the companies owe their consumers some sense of loyalty, they owe their shareholders more. They are always going to do what’s better for their bottom line. There are very few examples of companies who did the “right” thing at the expense of their bottom line.
What to Expect in This Type of Litigation?
When we think of personal injury cases, we tend to think of slip and falls or car accidents. These are cases involving one plaintiff and just one or two defendants. Most of these cases are settled within a few months. Very few go to trial.
With simple personal injury cases, the process is rather simple.
- Consult with lawyer
- File claim with the defendant’s insurance company
- If the claim is denied, file suit against the defendant
- Try to settle your case
- If you can’t settle, go to trial
- Put on a case for the jury and convince them the defendant is liable
- The jury makes a decision
- If a judgment is issued, you pursue the defendant for payment
With a case like the talcum powder litigation, things are a bit different. First of all, there are usually more than one plaintiff. Secondly, there are usually several defendants. Very few of these cases settle before trial. The evidence is complicated and can take months to gather. You will have to rely on experts in order to prove your case.
With mass litigation and product liability cases, things are a lot different. Here are some of the differences when it comes to mass-tort cases like those being filed against Johnson and Johnson:
- Your case will likely be joined with other plaintiffs – very few of these cases going forward are going to be just one plaintiff
- You won’t be represented by just one attorney – most of these cases involve several attorneys
- A lot of the evidence is going to revolve around medical reports – in order to prove your case, you’ll have to prove that you have cancer and prove that it was caused by the powder
- The defendant will have unlimited pockets – companies like Johnson and Johnson will have huge legal teams and can afford to drag the case out for years if they want to
- There will be a lot of delays – In order to intimidate the plaintiffs, expect the defendant to file tons of motions in order to delay the process
- Even if the jury find the defendant at fault, the case isn’t over – Even if you win, the defendant is almost always going to file an appeal
- The jury award may not be final – If the jury awards you millions of dollars, it doesn’t automatically mean you’ll get millions of dollars. Many times, the defendant appeals to the size of the verdict. And, even if they have to pay it, they may take years to pay it. Some companies actually file bankruptcy just to avoid paying legal judgments.
As you can see, cases like the talcum powder cases are very complicated. This is why they take so long. Very few cases are resolved in under a year. The defendant would rather hold on to their money. If this means they drag the case out for years, that’s what they’ll do.
What Should You Do if You Think Talcum Powder Caused Your Ovarian Cancer?
Hopefully, you’ll never have to worry about this. We pray that you never get sick and we pray that you’ll never have to deal with a talcum powder case. However, if you do, know that there are experienced attorneys here who can help.
If you’ve been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and have used talcum powder your whole life, you need to contact a personal injury lawyer right away. The attorneys at Ashcraft and Gerel are experts at handling these types of cases.
A&G have already handled talcum powder cases. They are involved in cases in both St. Louis and are at the heart of the epicenter of the litigation on the East Coast. They have relationships with the best medical experts out there to help with your case.
If you’re going to go up against a giant like Johnson and Johnson, you want the best of the best on your side. This is why you should rely on a firm like Ashcraft and Gerel. This is not the type of case where you want to rely on a rookie lawyer or someone who’s never handled a product liability case. There is simply too much at stake.
Once you meet with your talcum powder attorney, the two of you can discuss your case. Your lawyer will give you an idea of what your case may be worth. If you win your case, you may be entitled to the following:
- Medical bills – You will rack up thousands of dollars in medical bills if you are dealing with ovarian cancer. This includes tests, hospital stays, surgery, treatment and prescriptions. It also covers things like psychological counseling. Your attorney will help put together evidence to show your medical bills.
- Lost Wages – Whatever time you miss from work should be covered under your lawsuit. This includes disability if you become unable to work due to your illness.
- Pain and suffering – This is where the majority of your damages come into play. Your attorney can discuss the potential of pain and suffering with you.
- Any Out of Pocket Expenses – This can include tolls and mileage back and forth to different medical appointments. It also covers any other out of pocket expenses related to your injuries and illness.
A&G is involved in some of the biggest talcum powder cases pending right now. Call and schedule your free initial consultation today. You can meet with an attorney and discuss your case in detail. He can let you know how the process works. He can also let you know what your case may be worth. The consultation is free and remember, you pay nothing until you win your case!