Baby Powder Lawsuit
Update: J&J Ordered to Pay $110 Million in 5th St. Louis Talc Cancer Lawsuit
May 5, 2017 – A Missouri state court jury has awarded more than $110 million to a woman who claimed she developed ovarian cancer after using Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower body powder for decades, according to the Los Angeles Times. Jurors deliberated for just over a day following the 3 week trial, awarding 62-year-old Lois Slemp $5.4 million in compensatory damages and $105 million in punitive damages. Imerys Talc America, the company that supplied the talc to J&J, was also ordered to pay $50,000 in punitive damages.
Johnson’s Baby Powder has been linked to an increased risk for ovarian cancer when used for feminine hygiene purposes. More than 1,200 lawsuits have already been filed against J&J, including two recent cases that ended in $72 million and $55 million awards to the plaintiffs.
History of Johnson’s Baby Powder
Johnson’s Baby Powder made its debut in 1893 and entered the market the next year, according to Kilmer House. The product immediately became a success, and soon J&J began expanding its line of hygiene products to include Shower-to-Shower body powder, creams, soaps and more. With the rapid growth of advertising after World War I, the company launched the largest marketing campaign in its history, resulting in these products becoming widely-used in households across the country.
What is Talc?
Baby powder is made from talc, a naturally-occurring mineral that is commonly used in cosmetics and personal care products to absorb moisture, reduce friction and improve a product’s feel. In its natural state, talc can contain trace amounts of asbestos, a mineral that has been linked to cancers in and around the lungs when inhaled. However, talcum products sold in the U.S. have not contained asbestos since 1973.
What’s the Problem?
The problem is that talc particles can be absorbed into the vagina and travel through a woman’s reproductive system. Doctors first identified talc particles in tissue samples taken from the ovaries of women with cancer in the 1970’s. When talc particles become embedded in the ovaries, they can cause irritation and inflammation.
Talcum Powder Ovarian Cancer Studies
The American Cancer Society (ACS) notes that research investigating the link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer is mixed. Some studies report an increased risk in women who used talcum powder around their genitals, while other studies found no increased risk at all. The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies talc as a “possible human carcinogen” based on the following studies:
- 2003 – Meta-analysis of 16 studies published in the journal Anticancer Research found a 33% increased risk of ovarian cancer associated with perineal talcum powder use; however, no causal relationship was identified.
- 2008 – Study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention compared 1,400 women with ovarian cancer to 1,800 healthy women, associating talcum powder use with a 36% increased risk of the disease.
- 2013 – Cancer Prevention Research publishes a study linking talcum powder use in the genital area to a 20-30% increased risk of ovarian cancer.
J&J Ordered to Pay $127 Million in Talc Powder Trials
On May 2, 2016, Johnson & Johnson was ordered by a St. Louis jury to pay $55 million to Gloria Ristesund, who alleged that her use of Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower for feminine hygiene caused her to develop ovarian cancer. According to the lawsuit, Ristesund was forced to undergo a hysterectomy and related surgeries; her cancer is now in remission. The award included $5 million in compensatory damages and $50 million in punitive damages.
The verdict followed a February 22 ruling in the same St. Louis court in which a jury awarded $72 million to the family of a woman who died from ovarian cancer. The complaint alleged that 62-year-old Jacqueline Fox was diagnosed with fatal ovarian cancer after using Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower for more than 35 years. The award included $10 million in punitive damages and $62 million in compensatory damages. Fox and Ristesund are among more than 1,200 other U.S. women who are suing J&J for failing to warn consumers of the dangers associated with its talc products.
Ovarian Cancer Symptoms
- Vaginal bleeding
- Abnormal vaginal discharge
- Frequent bloating
- Pain in the belly or pelvis
- Abdominal pressure, fullness, swelling
- Changes in bowel or bladder habits (constipation, frequent urination, etc.)
- Persistent fatigue
- Low back pain
- Loss of appetite or feeling full
How Can You Prove Baby Powder Caused My Ovarian Cancer?
If you believe baby powder caused your ovarian cancer, our lawyers will order medical records and obtain a biopsy sample from the cancerous ovary. When the tissue sample is examined under a scanning microscope, there will be talcum fibers visible if the product was a cause of the disease.
Is There a Class Action?
No class action lawsuit has yet been filed in the baby powder litigation. However, over 1,200 women have filed individual lawsuits that have been centralized. More than 250 of these cases have been centralized at the state level in a mass tort in St. Louis, Missouri. At some point in the future, a multidistrict litigation (MDL) may be created for the litigation.
How Much Does it Cost to File a Lawsuit?
We represent our clients on a contingency basis, which means that you pay no fees unless we win compensation in your case.
Baby Powder Timeline
1893 – Johnson’s Baby Powder makes its debut
1894 – Johnson’s Baby Powder enters the U.S. market
1973 – Federal law prohibits asbestos in consumer products containing talc
2003 – Anticancer Research meta-analysis published
Meta-analysis of 16 studies published in Anticancer Research identifies a 33% increased risk of ovarian cancer from perineal talcum powder use.
2008 – Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention study published
Study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention compares 1,400 women with ovarian cancer to 1,800 healthy women, associating talcum powder use with a 36% increased risk of the disease.
2010 – World Health Organization classification
World Health Organization (WHO) classifies talc as a “possible human carcinogen”.
2013 – Cancer Prevention Research study published
Study published in Cancer Prevention Research links talcum powder use in the genital area to a 20-30% increased risk of ovarian cancer.
2016 – $72 million awarded
$72 million awarded to the family of Jacqueline Fox, who died from ovarian cancer after using Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower for more than 35 years.
2016 – $55 million awarded
St. Louis jury awards Gloria Ristesund $55 million over claims Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower led to her development of ovarian cancer.
- ”The Birth of Our Baby Products”. Kilmer House. The Story of Johnson & Johnson and its People. April 30, 2007.
- ”Johnson & Johnson verdict: Can talcum powder really cause cancer?” CBS News. May 3, 2016.
- ”Johnson & Johnson ordered to pay $55 mln in talc-powder trial“. Reuters. May 3, 2016.
- ”Johnson & Johnson ordered to pay $72 million in suit linking talcum powder to ovarian cancer“. The Washington Post. February 24, 2016.
- ”Talcum Powder and Cancer“. American Cancer Society (ACS). May 3, 2016.
- “IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans”. World Health Organization (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). 2010.
- “Perineal application of cosmetic talc and risk of invasive epithelial ovarian cancer: a meta-analysis of 11,933 subjects from sixteen observational studies”. Anticancer Research. March-April 2003.
- “Talc Use, Variants of the GSTM1, GSTT1, and NAT2 Genes, and Risk of Epithelial Ovarian Cancer”. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. June 2008.
- “Genital powder use and risk of ovarian cancer: a pooled analysis of 8,525 cases and 9,859 controls”. Cancer Research Prevention. May 2013.