A jury has awarded the family of a woman $72 million after determining use of talcum powder products led to her diagnosis of ovarian cancer and subsequent death. The decision was the first to award damages to someone claiming to have been injured from talcum powder. With numerous talcum powder lawsuits involving similar allegations now pending across the country, many have been watching with interest to see how this case would be decided.
Jacqueline Fox used Johnson & Johnson talcum powder products for more than 35 years, according to this complaint. Three years ago, Fox was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, which she asserted was directly linked to her talcum powder use. She, along with many other women, filed lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson, alleging the pharmaceutical giant failed to provide women with proper warning about the risks associated with their products.
Plaintiff dies before case is completed
Fox died in October 2015 at the age of 62, before her case was completed. Her son, Marvin Salter, took over Fox’s claim after her death. In February, a jury determined that Johnson & Johnson was liable for fraud, negligence and conspiracy in Fox’s case, awarding the family of the deceased $72 million after four hours of deliberations. Actual damages consisted of $10 million of the total, while the other $62 million was awarded in punitive damages.
One of the attorney’s for Fox’s family stated that Johnson & Johnson knew back in the 1980s the risks associated with their talcum powder products. However, the attorney stated that the company resorted to “lying to the public and lying to the regulatory agencies.”
A spokesperson for Johnson & Johnson disagreed with the verdict, telling Reuters the safety of their products is backed up by “decades of scientific evidence.” However, a recent study indicates the safety of products containing talcum powder could indeed be overstated.
New talc study shows cancer danger
Researchers at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston interviewed more than 4,000 women about their talcum powder use in this new study that was recently published in the journal Epidemiology. Around half of the women had received ovarian cancer diagnoses and the other half had not. They discovered that regular use of talcum powder, either directly on the genitals or on sanitary napkins, increased the risk of ovarian cancer by one-third.
Ovarian cancer is the eighth most common cancer among women in the U.S. today, affecting as many as one in every 70 women. One of the greatest dangers of this disease is that it often presents with few if any noticeable symptoms. This means that by the time a woman realizes she has ovarian cancer, the disease may be quite advanced and much more difficult to treat effectively.
Additional talcum powder studies support risk factor
The link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer is not new. A 1982 study conducted by Dr. Daniel Cramer showed a statistical link between talcum powder use and a heightened risk of ovarian cancer. Since that time, around 20 epidemiological studies have also confirmed that link, according to a report at Salon last year. Nevertheless, companies like Johnson & Johnson continue to market their talc products as safe and effective hygiene items.
Currently, Johnson & Johnson is facing around 1,200 lawsuits filed by women with similar allegations to Fox’s. Time will tell whether this court decision or the most recent study will impact the decisions in those cases as well.
If you have been injured by talcum powder use, the national product liability attorneys at Edelman, Krasin & Jaye can help. Contact us today at 1-800-469-7429 for a free case review and to discuss your legal options.