Talcum Baby Powder Settlements
Talcum baby powder products are ubiquitous in the beauty and hygiene industries, but they may also be harmful. Many people who used baby powder for decades developed cancer, including mesothelioma and ovarian cancer, and some of them have filed and won lawsuits against the manufacturers, winning significant settlements.
If you developed cancer and you used a product with talcum powder regularly and for a long period of time, you may be able to start your own lawsuit or join a class action suit against talc suppliers and talcum powder manufacturing giants, like Johnson & Johnson. It is clear that talcum baby powder has been a contributing factor in many people’s diagnoses of devastating cancer as more of these cases go to trial or end in well-publicized settlements.
The Link between Talcum Baby Powder and Cancer
It may seem unusual that such an innocuous product, one that is used on babies, could be harmful or cause cancer. Exactly how or why, or even to what extent, talcum powder has contributed to or caused cancer is not fully understood. But, there is enough evidence from research to conclude that there is a strong possibility it can be implicated in cases of mesothelioma and ovarian cancer.
The main ingredient in baby powder is talc. This is a soft, natural mineral that can be mined and then ground down into a very fine powder. It is an ideal ingredient in hygiene products because of its friction reduction and absorbency. It is in many powder-based products, including makeup, but the main product that uses the bulk of talc is talcum baby powder. People use it to keep skin dry and absorb sweat to keep comfortable and to reduce friction to prevent rashes.
Because talc is a mineral from the earth, when mined it often contains contaminating minerals. These include asbestos, known to cause mesothelioma. Federal regulations from the 1970s are supposed to ensure any asbestos is removed before talc goes into consumer products, but research in recent years has found that this is not always the case. Traces of asbestos have been found in talcum powder, and this could be one factor in causing cancer.
There have been cases of plaintiffs going after talcum baby powder manufacturers because of ovarian cancer, and others because of mesothelioma. There is evidence from research that women who used baby powder on their genital area for years are at a greater risk of having this kind of cancer. How it causes ovarian cancer is uncertain, but talc particles have been found inside the tumors, proving that the powder moves far inside the body.
New Jersey $117 Million Talcum Powder Settlement
Some of the cases that victims of mesothelioma or ovarian cancer have won have been for astounding amounts. One recent case finished in New Jersey. The plaintiff was Stephen Lanzo and the jury found Johnson & Johnson liable for his mesothelioma. The jury awarded $80 million in punitive damages, $30 million to Lanzo, and $7 million to Lanzo’s wife.
Lanzo and his lawyers argued in the case that his use of Johnson’s brand Baby Powder and Shower to Shower talcum powder caused him to develop the rare type of cancer, mesothelioma, which is almost always caused by asbestos exposure. They argued that his use of the products for more than 30 years caused him to inhale the harmful asbestos fibers contained in the baby powder.
New Jersey is the home state of Johnson & Johnson and this was the first case against the company and talcum baby powder in the state. An important piece of evidence that Lanzo’s lawyers used against the company was internal documentation from the company in the 1960s that indicated executives knew asbestos could be in the talc. The legal team successfully argued that the company failed to warn customers, and the jury agreed, awarding the large settlement.
$26 Million Settlement in California
Another recent case also ended in favor of the plaintiff, a California woman named Joanne Anderson. She was diagnosed with mesothelioma after decades of using Johnson & Johnson baby powder products. The jury awarded $26 million, deciding in her favor. They did not, however, assign all the blame to Johnson & Johnson. The company is responsible for about two-thirds of the amount, but the rest goes to other companies, including those related to her husband’s work with cars and car parts. Several car parts have contained asbestos in the past, and many still do.
$417 Million for Ovarian Cancer
The cases involving mesothelioma are often easier to win because it is a type of cancer that has only one known cause: exposure to asbestos. Ovarian cancer, on the other hand, could have a variety of contributing factors. Even so, the evidence that talcum powder increases the risk of this kind of cancer in women is strong and has helped many win settlements.
Those include Eva Echeverria, who won a huge amount in a California case against Johnson & Johnson. She used baby powder for feminine hygiene for over 60 years, through 2016, and was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007. Echeverria and her lawyers argued that Johnson & Johnson did not warn consumers that talcum powder could contribute to or increase the risk of ovarian cancer, and they claimed that her long use of the product is what caused her cancer diagnosis and her own poor health.
The jury in the case ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay a huge amount. The total $417 million includes $68 million for compensation to Echeverria and $340 million in punitive damages. As part of the case, the plaintiff also hoped that the company would be forced to add a warning label to products. Unfortunately in this case, the settlement amount was overturned on an appeal and the company was awarded a new trial.
These examples of settlements in favor of plaintiffs demonstrate the serious risk that talcum baby powder products pose to human health. While not all cases are won, enough have landed big settlements to show that there is merit to the idea that talcum powder can contribute to or cause cancer. If you believe your cancer, or that of a loved one, is related to baby powder, talk to an experienced products liability lawyer. This expert can help you make the right decisions, make a case, and take steps to try to win a fair settlement.
Page Edited by Dave Foster
- Gordon, R.E., Fitzgerald, S. & Millette, J. (2014). Asbestos in Commercial Cosmetic Talcum Powder as a Cause of Mesothelioma in Women. Int. J. Occup. Environ. Health, 20(4), 318-32.
Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4164883/
- Terry, K.L., Karageorgi, S., Svetsov, Y.B., Merritt, M.A., Lurie, G., Thompson, P., Carney, M.E., Weber, R.P., Akushevich, L., Lo-Ciganic, W., Cushing-Haugen, K.L., Sieh, W., Moysich, K.B., Doherty, J.A., Nagle, C.M., Berchuck, A., Pearce, C.L., Pike, M., Ness, R.N., Webb, P., Rossing, M.A., Schildkraut, J., Risch, H.A. & Goodman, M.T. (2013). Genital Powder Use and Risk of Ovarian Cancer: A Pooled Analysis of 8,525 Cases and 9,859 Controls. Cancer Prevention Research, 6(8), 811-21.
Retrieved from: http://cancerpreventionresearch.aacrjournals.org/content/early/2013/06/12/1940-6207.CAPR-13-0037
- Christensen, J. (2018, April 11). New Jersey Couple Awarded $117 Million in Talcum Powder Case.
Retrieved from: https://www.cnn.com/2018/04/06/health/talc-mesothelioma-asbestos-damages/index.html
- Valdez, R. (2018, May 26). Jury Orders J&J to Pay $26 Million of Damages in Another Talcum Powder Cancer Case.
Retrieved from: https://www.techtimes.com/articles/228639/20180526/jury-orders-j-j-to-pay-26-million-of-damages-in-another-talcum-powder-cancer-case.htm
- Christensen, J. (2017, October 23). Judge Overturns Record Verdict in Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Trial.
Retrieved from: https://www.cnn.com/2017/10/23/health/johnson-and-johnson-talcum-powder-trial-verdict-overturned/index.html
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