A St. Louis jury recently delivered a $72 million verdict against pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson after hearing details of how its talcum-based powder has been linked to ovarian cancer in women.
The verdict is getting a tremendous amount of attention, and is once again shining a spotlight on the dangers posed by this common household product and the negligence displayed by companies that were aware of the hazards that it posed, yet continued selling and marketing it to consumers anyway.
In the case of the recent verdict, the family of Jacqueline Fox was awarded the sum after the jury heard testimony that linked the talc to cancer risks. According to juror Jerome Kendrick, he and the rest of the panel were particularly focused on the testimony that showed that Johnson & Johnson employees were aware of the dangers posed by talc, and yet did nothing to stop its sale and distribution.
“The problem I had is that, according to inter office documents, J&J was aware of the potential concerns. And it really looked like instead of trying to investigate, they started talking about how to combat what would eventually be a court case.”
Talc has been linked to cancer in two different ways: lung cancer is a risk for those who work with the product, and ovarian cancer has been associated with its use in the genital area. In its natural condition, some talcum contains asbestos, and similar lawsuits have been filed against the manufacturers of body powder for exposing consumers to the risk of mesothelioma.
In 2015, a California woman was awarded $13 million after a jury determined that her mesothelioma was caused by her use of Cashmere Bouquet talcum powder.
A Delaware court will be hearing, a similar case filed this year by a man who claimed his mesothelioma was caused by his childhood exposure to the product, which his mother used on a daily basis. He too alleged that the companies that marketed and sold the product were aware of its dangers. Asbestos-contaminated talc was no longer used after the 1970s.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma and you are uncertain of your exposure, there is a strong possibility that it came from a non-occupational source such as cosmetic powders or the clothing worn by a family member exposed to the deadly carcinogen.