Johnson & Johnson has paid billions of dollars to consumers who faithfully used talcum powder daily for years before developing ovarian cancer or mesothelioma. According to the lawsuits, the manufacturer knew of risks associated with their product for more than 40 years, but failed to warn consumers of possible risks.
Why Are Talcum Powder Lawsuits Resulting in Settlements?
There are two different charges against Johnson & Johnson for their talcum powder products, including that they cause:
- Ovarian Cancer – Frequent talcum powder use for feminine hygiene is linked with a 30-60% increased risk of cancer, according to the International Journal of Gynecological Cancer. Dr. Daniel Cramer of Harvard Medical School says thousands of talcum powder users are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year. While the exact mechanism is unknown, researchers believe talc particles get into the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries, causing chronic inflammation – a risk factor. Another theory is that direct contact with the mucous membrane suppresses antibodies that protect against cancer.
- Mesothelioma – As mined, talcum contains the naturally-occurring mineral and carcinogen asbestos. In 1976, the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association (now the Personal Care Products Council) asked its members to remove all traces of asbestos moving forward, but there were no government regulations to ensure this measure was effectively implemented. As a personal care product, there is no FDA oversight of talcum powder. Most mesothelioma patients were exposed to asbestos working in construction, mining, industrial, or insultation work. Some, however, may have breathed in talcum powder at home, causing the irritation and chronic inflammation that typically leads to cancerous tumor formation.
Determining the Value of Your Talcum Powder Lawsuit Settlement
An experienced personal injury attorney with expertise in class actions and mass torts can help you determine a fair talcum powder lawsuit settlement for your particular case. Plaintiffs in product liability cases may seek:
- Compensatory damages: Receive money to cover doctor’s visits, hospital bills, medications, and lost wages. Some of this amount can be calculated based on what you paid in the past and what you currently owe, but an estimation of future expenses is also included in the calculations when your expenses are ongoing.
- Pain and suffering: Physical pain, aches, disabilities, and activity limitations can cause emotional anguish. To calculate, a judge and jury may consider a multiplier of your total compensatory damages, like 2-5x the amount.
- Punitive damages: Punitive damages are designed to punish well-heeled defendants engaged in reckless or grossly negligent behavior that knowingly or intentionally caused harm.
Spouses and surviving family members of plaintiffs may be entitled to file a lawsuit for:
- Loss of consortium: Particularly in ovarian cancer cases, a spousal partner may be denied love, affection, comfort, and a normal relationship due to symptoms affecting the expression of sexuality.
- Loss of support and guidance: When the plaintiff is the primary breadwinner, the family can seek loss of support. If the plaintiff died, leaving young children behind, they can claim loss of guidance.
- Wrongful death benefits: Surviving spouses can claim wrongful death, loss of companionship, funeral expenses, and burial costs for themselves when the plaintiff has died from his or her injuries.
The amount a person receives will be based on actual medical expenses, work-related losses, the level of injury suffered, and the amount of life upheaval caused. Plaintiffs who used talcum powder daily for years will generally have a stronger case than infrequent users.
Talcum Powder Lawsuit Settlement Amounts
Talcum powder lawsuit settlement amounts have been quite substantial:
- $4.6 billion paid to 22 women with ovarian cancer, including six decedents, in St. Louis (July 2018)
- $25 million Los Angeles jury award for Joanne Anderson who had mesothelioma (May 2018)
- $117 million New Jersey jury award for Stephen Lanzo who had mesothelioma (April 2018)
- $110 million St. Louis jury award for Louis Slemp who contracted ovarian cancer (May 2017)
- $70 million St. Louis jury award for Californian Deborah Giannecchini who had ovarian cancer (November 2016)
- $55 million St. Louis jury award for Gloria Ristesund’s ovarian cancer resulting in hysterectomy (May 2016)
Not all lawsuits have been successful. At least two large verdicts were later overturned in appeal. So it’s important to find an experienced legal team with the grit and determination to win and protect their victories.
Are There Talcum Powder Class Actions or Talcum Powder Mass Torts?
With 137 lawsuits down and at least 10,952 more to go, the cost of litigating talcum powder lawsuits will certainly be high – even for a company worth $45 billion a year. Plaintiffs have approached litigation by suing in small groups, rather than a large class action. Most individual lawsuits have been consolidated as part of Multi-District Litigation (MDL 2738) before one judge in New Jersey, where Johnson & Johnson is headquartered. In mass torts, a panel of federal judges send the cases through a single court, where lawsuits benefit from the same discovery and evidence-gathering processes. Ultimately, though, each individual case is heard and decided based on its own merits.
Contact Rutter Mills to See if You Qualify to File a Talcum Powder Lawsuit
Rutter Mills is a large, successful law firm capable of handling talcum powder lawsuit claims from across the country. If you have tangible losses you suspect may be tied to long-term talc product use, we can investigate. All consultations are provided free of charge and you pay no upfront legal fees. Contact us to explore your legal options.