For years, women and some medical professionals have suspected that there might be a connection between the use of talc-based personal-care products and certain illnesses—especially cancer. But there was difficulty in proving that link when it involved just a few reports of ill effects and concerned an ingredient used in everything from plastic and paint to baby powder. So for years millions of people continued to use these products, despite efforts by some to prove that they’d been harmed by them.
That’s beginning to change as earlier this year two multi-million-dollar claims against Johnson & Johnson (J&J), a major manufacturer of talc products such as baby powder and Shower-to-Shower, have been decided in favor of the victims. Other cases continue to move through the system as more victims and their families step forward.
Large Verdicts, Many Cases to Come
In May, a South Dakota woman won a $55 million judgment against J&J for causing her ovarian cancer. That verdict followed on the heels of a February decision in favor of the family of an Alabama woman who passed away last year while her case was ongoing. In that case, a jury determined that J&J should pay $72 million in total damages (with the majority going to a state crime victim compensation fund).
While two similar cases in New Jersey were recently dismissed when a judge ruled that the plaintiffs’ expert testimony did not meet rigorous standards, there are many more cases pending—around 1,200 by some accounts. The first in a group of forty-five cases to be heard in a Missouri court is set to begin this week.
Talc’s Long History and Wide Use
Talc is the softest of all minerals and has been known to mankind for millennia. It’s found widely in nature and is commercially mined on every continent except Antarctica. Over the centuries, many uses have been found for it, and today talc is used on an industrial scale in making paper, plastic, paint, ceramics, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and even food products. It’s even been used as a medical treatment.
Potential Risks, Too
While talc is considered safe for many applications, concerns have existed about potential risks for decades. One problem with talc is that it’s often found in nature along with asbestos, a known toxic mineral blamed for many cancers and other diseases. Care is taken when mining talc to avoid contamination, and only the purest ore is reserved for human uses.
While it sees widespread use in many forms, including baby powder, small particles of talc can cause respiratory problems (and in rare cases death) when too much is inhaled. Most parents still use talc-based baby powders, despite the fact that as far back as 1969, doctors warned of potential problems. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against using it.
The personal injury cases against J&J center on ovarian cancer, which the plaintiffs claim was ultimately caused when particles of talc in body powders made their way through the genital tract. The presence of these particles led to chronic inflammation which, over time, led to more severe health issues, including cancer.
At issue in the cases so far has been both what J&J knew about the medical science around talc and when they became aware of it, as well as whether they were covering up known dangers. In the February verdict, the jury determined that J&J was guilty not only of negligence for selling a product they knew included risks and not warning consumers appropriately, but also of conspiracy for what were seen as extensive efforts to hide the risks from the public while preparing for eventual lawsuits.
California Talc Injury Lawyer
At Dickson Kohan & Bablove, LLP, we understand the complicated nature of talc injury claims. If you or a family member has suffered injuries that you feel are related to the use of a product which contains talc, such as an after-bath powder, shower gel, sanitary pads, or incontinence products, you may have the basis for a claim to recover compensation for your injuries.
Give us a call today at 1-844-404-2400 or complete the form below to schedule a free consultation to discuss the details of your situation. You can also use the LiveChat feature from any page of this website for quick answers to many of your questions.