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Talcum baby powder class action lawsuits have formed over women and men who developed ovarian cancer or mesothelioma after years of using the hygiene product. Studies have found a possible explanation for the cancer risk: some talc products contain asbestos. Now people are suing the companies responsible, individuals, and groups in large class-action lawsuits.
About the Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Lawsuits
Thousands of people have filed lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson. The lawsuits allege the company’s talcum powder products caused their cancer diagnoses.
Many of these have been consolidated into class action lawsuits and multidistrict litigation (MDL). By consolidating the cases, the court system can get through claims more quickly and efficiently.
Currently, many of the cases are tied up in a dispute over Johnson & Johnson’s bankruptcy plants. How it will end for plaintiffs remains to be seen.
How Does Asbestos Get into Talcum Powder?
Such an innocuous-seeming product as baby powder has become synonymous with cancer and class action lawsuits because of the natural mineral that is the main ingredient. Talc is mined from the earth, which means it may contain traces of other minerals.
Asbestos is one of the minerals that may be found in talc deposits. Beginning in 1973, U.S. law requires that makers of talc products remove any contaminating asbestos. This does not mean, however, that all talcum powders are now asbestos-free. A recent study found traces of asbestos in popular talcum powder products.
How Does Contaminated Talcum Powder Cause Cancer?
- The particles of the powder are so fine that they are easily inhaled.
- Contaminating asbestos can then get into the lungs and cause pleural mesothelioma.
- Use of the powder on the genital area may trigger migration of particles to the ovaries.
- This may cause ovarian cancer.
- Studies show that women who use talcum powder this way are at a greater risk for ovarian cancer.
Class Action Lawsuits over Talcum Powder and Cancer
There have been several individual cases brought against talcum powder manufacturers over cancer diagnoses. Many of these have been successful for the plaintiffs. Victims are also getting together in larger groups to file class-action lawsuits.
New Jersey MDL
As lawsuits against talcum powder manufacturers began to grow, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation centralized many of them in New Jersey. The Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) consolidated over 1,000 individual lawsuits.
Discovery and bellwethers began in 2016, but the plaintiffs have faced roadblocks. A judge dismissed one of the original cases brought by Mona Estrada of California. Then, Johnson & Johnson put a bankruptcy plan into action that would limit its liability.
Johnson & Johnson filed for bankruptcy to spin off a subsidiary that would take on the many cases over talcum powder and cancer. After the company faced obstacles to this plan and moved its bankruptcy to Texas where it is easier to create the spinoff company.
The spinoff is a blow to plaintiffs. It would limit the assets available for payouts to victims. Plaintiffs and their lawyers challenged the move, but in early 2022, a judge declined to stop the bankruptcy plan.
Missouri Class Action Lawsuit
One important lawsuit in St. Louis involved twenty-two women against manufacturing giant Johnson & Johnson.
The women all alleged that regular and long-term use of the company’s baby powder products led to their cases of ovarian cancer.
The case was almost shut down because seventeen of the plaintiffs do not reside in Missouri. Johnson & Johnson challenged this with a motion to dismiss the case but failed.
The women won their class-action suit, with a jury award of $4.69 billion. The company appealed the decision, and in June 2021, the appeals court reduced the award to $2.1 billion.
The plaintiffs, in this case, may have gotten a boost from an individual case of a man who won in New Jersey against Johnson & Johnson. The man claimed that he developed mesothelioma from years of use of the company’s baby powder. His lawyers presented internal documents from Johnson & Johnson that prove the company knew their products contained asbestos.
Illinois Class Action
Barbara Mihalich filed a class action against Johnson & Johnson in Illinois in 2016. She alleged that the Baby Powder she used for years caused her ovarian cancer. She and her lawyers alleged that the company knew the product was unsafe and failed to warn consumers. The case was rounded up into the New Jersey MDL.
Investor Class Action
Frank Hall filed a class action in 2019 against Johnson & Johnson. Rather than representing cancer victims, this lawsuit is on behalf of investors in the company. Hall and his lawyers allege that Johnson & Johnson fraudulently inflated stock value by hiding information about asbestos in its products.
Canadian Class Action Lawsuit
Many people in Canada have been affected by the regular use of talcum powders, and one group has just gotten the go-ahead to start a class-action lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson.
As with U.S. cases against Johnson & Johnson, the plaintiffs, in this case, are arguing that the regular use of baby powder led to ovarian cancer. The company maintains that the product is safe. Still, the women want compensation for their medical expenses and pain and suffering and a warning label added to all talc products.
How Do You Qualify for a Baby Powder Lawsuit?
If you used a talcum powder product for years and now have mesothelioma or asbestos, you can file a lawsuit. Talk to a lawyer about your options. You can file an individual lawsuit or join a class action.
What Is the Average Settlement for Talcum Powder Lawsuits?
Settlement and verdict amounts vary significantly by case. An experienced lawyer is the best person to give you an estimate of what to expect.
Some plaintiffs have won multimillion-dollar awards already. On the other hand, the settlement from a class action is considerably less, as it is divided among many plaintiffs.
Should I Participate in a Class Action Suit?
While new class-action suits are starting up in Canada and the U.S., most people with cancer from using baby powder are sticking with individual talcum baby powder lawsuits. One reason is that class action suits can be challenging to win.
Also, individual cases end in the company settling with the victims instead of going to trial, which can be more expensive for the defendant.
This point was made recently when a jury in a California court found Johnson & Johnson liable for ovarian cancer in one individual plaintiff. The jury awarded her $417 million in damages, a considerable amount.
Only an experienced lawyer can give you the best advice about whether or not to join a class-action lawsuit. Your situation may be better suited to this type of case or an individual lawsuit.
Class action lawsuits have their place and could be useful in helping the victims of cancer caused by baby powder products get compensation and justice.
If you believe that your cancer may have been caused by talcum powder use, speak to an asbestos lawyer or experienced products liability team to help you decide if you have a case and what steps to take next to join a class action suit or file your own independent lawsuit.Get Your FREE Mesothelioma Packet
Page Written by Rod De Llano, Esquire
Rod De Llano was born and raised in Laredo, Texas. He graduated from Princeton University with a B.A. in Economics, and earned a law degree from the University of Texas. After working for an international law firm for several years, Rod formed a law firm dedicated to representing persons injured by exposure to asbestos products. For over 20 years, Rod has fought for persons diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis. His clients have recovered over $1 billion over the years.