Talcum

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Talcum powder is made from talc; magnesium, silicon, and oxygen are main elements of talc. It is one of the most common ingredients of cosmetic products such as baby powder, personal care products, contraceptives, anti-chafing products, deodorants, etc. as it absorbs moisture well and helps reduce friction.

In its natural form, some talc contains asbestos, a known human carcinogen. Regulations were made by the U.S. government in 1973, requiring all talcum powders to be free of asbestos.

Some of the most popular talcum powder products are the following:

  • Johnson's Baby Powder

  • Shower-to-Shower (Johnson & Johnson)

  • Cashmere Bouquet (Colgate-Palmolive)

Johnson's Baby Powder, one of the most popular products containing talcum powder, is linked to increasing a woman's risk of ovarian cancer if she uses it regularly in the genital area. In a few cases, the cancer tissue was studied using an electron microscope and was found to have talc in it, which supported the claim that the cancer was caused by the body powder and increases the talc related cancer risk.

Talcum Here's our take on Talcum Powder
Embroiled in Multi-Million Lawsuits

Serious Alleged Injuries may include:

  • Lung cancer: Talc miners are at a higher risk of lung cancer from breathing in asbestos fibers.
  • Ovarian cancer: Women who apply talcum powder regularly in the genital area are at a higher risk of ovarian cancer.

FDA Safety Warnings:

Talc, one of the main ingredient in baby powder,  is considered cosmetic when used in makeup and body powders, which required very little federal oversight. The law does not require cosmetic companies to share their safety information with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Without sound scientific data to show that it is harmful under its intended use, the FDA cannot take any actions.

In spite of several studies highlighting the cancer risk, the FDA does not require Baby Powder warnings on talc-based product labels to be updated. Moreover, J&J has also refused to add one, willingly.

Legal Updates:

Defendants: Johnson & Johnson and its talc supplier, Imerys Talc America

Defendant Law Firm:
California Talc lawsuits: J&J is represented by Scott Richman and Mike Brown of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP and Matt Ashby of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, LLP. 

The centralized state suits in multicounty litigation: J&J is represented by John H. Beisner of Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP, Gene M. Williams and Kathleen Frazier of Shook Hardy & Bacon LLP, and Susan M. Sharko, Stephen R. Long, Jack N. Frost Jr. and Julie L. Tersigni of Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP.

Imerys Talc America and its affiliates are represented by Bradford J. DeJardin and Mordecai Boone of Dentons.

Allegations: Allegations include that the company knew about the risks of using talcum powder for decades and failed to warn the public of the potential risk of ovarian cancer in women despite numerous scientific studies suggesting talc as a cancer-causing mineral. Rather, they chose to market the talcum powder products to women and children for hygienic use despite being aware of the risks desiring profits before consumer safety. Lawsuits also claim J&J hid the fact that talcum powder contains asbestos.

Plaintiff Steering Committee

Eleven attorneys from across the country make up the plaintiffs’ steering committee:

  • Laurence S. Berman of Levin - Fishbein, Sedran & Berman

  • Timothy G. Blood of Blood - Hurst & O’Reardon LLP

  • Sindhu S. Daniel - Baron & Budd, P.C.,

  • Jeff S. Gibson - Cohen & Malad

  • Kristie M. Hightower - Lundy, Lundy, Soileau & South LLP

  • Daniel R. Lapinski - Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer, P.A.

  • Victoria Maniatis - Sanders Phillips Grossman LLC

  • Carmen S. Scott - Motley Rice LLC

  • Eric H. Weinberg - The Weinberg Law Firm

  • C. Mark Whitehead III - the Whitehead Law Firm

  • Richard L. Root - Morris Bart LLC

As of October 2018, J&J lost jury verdicts totaling more than $700 million. J&J has consistently denied that its products can be linked to cancer and are currently appealing several of these cases.

Lawsuit Status: Over 9,000 talcum powder lawsuits are pending against J&J in courts across the United States.

  • Many pending talc cases were consolidated in Missouri 22nd Circuit court for St. Louis City.

  • In 2016,  60 talcum cases were centralized into a federal multi-district litigation (MDL) in New Jersey Federal Court under U.S. District Court Judge Freda Wolfson in the U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey- MDL No. 2738; (In re Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Products Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation.)

  • Thousands of complaints are filed in state courts in New Jersey and Delaware.

  • Lawsuits are also pending in a California coordinated proceeding, Judicial Council Coordinated Proceeding No. 4877. Judge Maren E. Nelson of the California Superior Court for the County of Los Angeles was initially assigned these cases.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Important Verdicts & Settlements:

  • February 2016: A St. Louis jury awarded the family of a woman who died of ovarian cancer $10 million in actual damages, and a further $62 million for punitive damages. However, in October 2017, J&J won the reversal of this $72 million verdict. January 2018, an appeal was put forth by the family of the plaintiff.

  • May 2016: The second jury in City of St. Louis, Mo., Circuit Court found J&J liable for the development of plaintiff Gloria Ristesund’s ovarian cancer and awarded her a verdict of $55 million. However, in June 2018, a Missouri Court of Appeals dismissed this J&J talc-powder verdict.

  • October 2016: The third jury in City of St. Louis, Mo., Circuit Court, awarded Deborah Giannecchini of Modesto, California, over $70 million in a lawsuit alleging that J&J acted with “negligent conduct” in the production and sale of its flagship baby powder product. For the first time, the jury also held Johnson & Johnson talc supplier Imerys liable for damages as well.

  • March 2017: In the fourth lawsuit to be tried in St. Louis circuit court, jurors found defendants J&J and Imerys Talc America not liable for damages in a lawsuit by Tennessee resident Nora Daniels, who alleged that she used J&J Baby Powder for 36 years and was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2013.

  • May 2017: The Missouri Court jury in the City of St. Louis ordered J&J along with its talc supplier, Imerys Talc America, to pay $110 million to plaintiff Lois Slemp’s over her ovarian cancer allegation.

  • June 2017: The sixth talc trial in St. Louis Circuit Court ended in a mistrial announced by Circuit Judge Rex Burlison based on a U.S. Supreme Court verdict affecting jurisdictional issues, limiting state courts’ authority to hear claims against companies that are not based in the state, or when the alleged injuries did not occur there.

  • August 2017: A California jury announced $ 417 million in favor of plaintiff Eva Echeverria finding J&J talcum powder products were responsible for the plaintiff’s ovarian cancer.  The verdict was overturned on October 20, 2017. Despite the death of the plaintiff, her daughter and acting trustee appealed the California jury's decision as of July 2018. This was the first Talcum case to go to trial in California.

  • July 2018: A six-week-long trial ended with the St. Louis jury awarding $4.7 billion as total damages to the plaintiffs and their families, involving 22 women, six of whom have died of ovarian cancer. Judge Rex Burlison in Missouri’s 22nd Circuit Court, St. Louis, upheld the $ 4.7 billion verdict in August 2018.

  • September 2018: A California Jury asked Johnson & Johnson to pay $29.2 million as damages along with punitive damages in the sixth talcum powder trial concerning plaintiff Carolyn Weirick's mesothelioma.
  • December 2018: Johnson & Johnson and its talc supplier Imerys America Inc. agreed to pay more than 1.5 million to a 78-year-old Manhattan woman, Ann Zoas, who blamed exposure to asbestos fibers from J&J's talcum powder for her mesothelioma.

  • March 2019: On March 13, the Oakland jury found Johnson & Johnson's talcum powder was tainted with carcinogenic asbestos fibers and was a substantial reason for a woman's mesothelioma. The 12-member jury awarded $29.5 million to the dying California woman.  On March 27, in three separate trials J&J confidentially settled three women's lawsuits which blamed asbestos-in-talc for their mesothelioma.
  • May 2019:On May 31, J&J was hit with $325M over talcum powder lawsuit filed by Donna Olson and her husband, Robert Olson. The jury awarded $25 million in compensatory damages and another $300 million in punitive damages.
  • June 2019:The Alameda County Superior Court jury awarded $12 million to Patricia Schmitz, who was diagnosed with mesothelioma linked to the usage of talcum powder products.
  1. Oklahoma Trial: Lawsuit filed by 77-year-old plaintiff Sharon Pipes, who developed peritoneal mesothelioma, was settled out of court.
  2. Los Angeles Trial: J&J confirmed settlement for lawsuit filed by 36-year-old plaintiff, Gail Koretoff, who developed pleural mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure from talc.
  3. New York trial: J&J settled a lawsuit brought by 41-year-old woman, Jenny Shulman, who developed peritoneal mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure.
  • On March 27, Middlesex County Superior Court in New Brunswick ruled in favor of J&J in a lawsuit filed by plaintiff Ricardo Rimondi,   which linked asbestos presence to the man's mesothelioma.

Evidence:

  • Duration of Talcum powder usage.
  • Diagnosis of ovarian cancer from Medical Records.
  • Treatment provided for ovarian cancer.

Medical Record Review and claim validation of Talcum case should take approximately 3 hours in most instances; however, this approximation may vary in cases based on the volume of records.

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