J&J Talc Powder and Ovarian Cancer Lawsuit Update
October 5, 2018 | Pharmaceutical Litigation
“Johnson’s Baby Powder has been a staple cosmetic for over a century. Made from the naturally occurring soft mineral talc, baby powder has been encouraged by Johnson & Johnson for use in daily feminine hygiene routines. A more recent creation, Shower-to-Shower Body Powder has also been used for cosmetic and hygiene purposes for several decades. Citing studies and internal company documents as far back as the 1970’s, plaintiffs in talcum powder lawsuits have claimed that the use of talc-based powder products can cause ovarian cancer. While Johnson & Johnson and Imerys Talc America (J&J’s talc supplier) deny these claims, jury awards have handed the company several trial losses with high compensatory damages and even higher punitive damages” (Consumer Safety). Recently the lawsuits being brought against the company for cases of ovarian cancer have made advancements and the rulings in these cases have been updated as well.
Early Roadblocks for Victims
Though the connection between talc and cancer is still debated and there is no cut and dry scientific proof one way or another, the correlation is strong and cannot be denied. This has given enough power and brought enough concern that people are looking into it in more detail and are beginning to question if talc powder really is safe. For several years now, cases have been brought before state judges on an individual basis and have found mixed results. Many get denied, with the judge ruling in favor of the big pharmaceutical company, others get awarded small amounts, and a handful who get a decent ruling are often thrown for a loop when the original ruling is reversed! “Judges in two separate cases have ruled in favor of pharma giant Johnson & Johnson, overturning large financial judgments awarded to plaintiffs who believe the company’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower powder products caused their ovarian cancer. One award was to a California woman for $417 million, and another was to an Alabama woman for $72 million” (CNN).
Updates on the Lawsuit
“Lawyers have filed thousands of lawsuits on behalf of people who developed ovarian cancer or mesothelioma after exposure to talcum powder products. Juries have already returned hundreds of millions of dollars in verdicts. In 2018, a jury awarded $117 million to a man who said he developed mesothelioma after using Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder. A few months later, another jury awarded 22 plaintiffs with ovarian cancer $4.69 billion” (Drug Watch).
In July, 2018, Reuters reported that a Missouri jury ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay a record-setting $4.69 billion to 22 women who brought forth a lawsuit against the company on the grounds that their powder products contain asbestos and caused them to develop ovarian cancer after they used the products. The company always has and continues to deny the allegations and has said on numerous occasions they are dissatisfied with the jury’s decision and plan to fight future lawsuits that are brought against the company for the talc powder and cancer link cases. “Johnson & Johnson is deeply disappointed in the verdict, which was the product of a fundamentally unfair process,” J&J said in a statement given to Reuters after the verdict was handed down.
Litigation and Limitations
One important factor that is moving these lawsuits along at a fairy rapid pace is the fight against the clock when it comes to statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is the time limit people have to file a lawsuit. If people wait too long to file a lawsuit, they may be forever barred from doing so. The length of time given by the statute of limitations varies from state to state and can also vary depending on the nature of the case being brought. For talcum powder and ovarian cancer claims, the clock starts ticking after the cancer diagnosis and a case needs to be brought as soon as possible to establish the connection between the cancer and the use of the talc powder. “Most states have a two- or three-year statute of limitations. Families can still file lawsuits if a loved one died of talcum powder cancer. In wrongful death claims, the clock starts ticking from the date of death. Most states have a two- or three-year statute of limitations” (Drug Watch). This is why it is so important to get in touch with an attorney or legal representative as soon as possible after a cancer diagnosis if you believe you may have some sort of legal case to present.
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