Is talcum powder actually safe? Can it really cause ovarian cancer? A St. Louis jury believed that it does, awarding a staggering $70 million dollars to Deborah Giannecchini, a California woman with cancer. Suffering from ovarian cancer since 2012, Deborah placed blame on the company and their negligence involving production, marketing, and safety. Deborah was not the first, and will not be the last to point fingers at Johnson and Johnson. Thousands of other women have stepped forward to collect reparations.
This series of Johnson and Johnson class action lawsuits revolve around the dangerous levels of toxins found in baby, health, and beauty talcum powder products. If you use these products or know someone who does, you probably have a lot of questions as well. Despite losing the aforementioned $70 million dollar lawsuit in October, 2016 the company continues to deny and downplay the levels of dangerous carcinogens in the powder. What follows is a synopsis of the controversy, the actions, and the outcomes of several Johnson and Johnson class action lawsuits.
Who are Johnson and Johnson?
Johnson and Johnson was founded in 1886 by brothers Edward, Robert, and James Johnson. They produced “ready to use surgical dressings” in 1886 and literally wrote the book on antiseptic practices in surgery when they published Modern Methods of Antiseptic Wound Treatment in 1888. The company and their contributions have grown exponentially since. J&J is a multi-billion dollar, multi-national publically traded corporation offering branded consumer items such as J&J Baby Powder, Tylenol, Benadryl, Band-Aid, and Listerine as well as pharmaceuticals, current and in development in the areas of Neuroscience and Oncology, Cardiovascular and Metabolic Diseases, Infectious Diseases and Vaccines, and Immunology. Johnson and Johnson is also parent to companies offering medical devices.
What are Some Examples of Johnson and Johnson Class Action Lawsuits
As the lead producer in the world of health-related goods; a Johnson and Johnson class action lawsuit should not sound too uncommon. Perhaps most notable was the 1982 recall of over 30 million bottles of Tylenol after seven consumers died of cyanide poisoning due to tampering. The person or persons responsible for this issue was never found but the company did create tamper resistant bottles for their products following consumer criticism of their manufacturing and packaging facilities. Here is the big question, “Did Johnson and Johnson knowingly offer products whose repeated use could lead to cancer, and were they negligent according to the United States Food and Drug Administration’s labeling requirements and guideline in warning consumers of possible dangers?”
In December 2009, a South Dakota woman claimed that the ovarian cancer she was diagnosed with in 2006 was directly related to her repeated use of Johnson and Johnson’s Baby Powder, specifically the ingredient talc. In 2013, the complainant, Diane Berg, was offered a $1.3 million-dollar settlement but refused it due to the non-disclosure agreement which was part of the settlement offer. She wanted to be sure that the public was warned about the dangers of the product. In 2013 the trial concluded with a favorable verdict for the plaintiff but no damages were awarded because there was no concluding evidence that Johnson and Johnson was part of a conspiracy to defraud their consumers. An appeal for damages was denied by Judge Karen Schreier.
The Recent Rulings
In 2014 two class action lawsuits were filed that, when concluded in 2016, resulted in over $100 million cumulative dollars being awarded to the plaintiffs and their families. The jury found that Johnson and Johnson was liable for not warning these consumers about the risks in using their products. Since then, thousands of lawsuits have been filed against the company and in 2016, juries awarded over $200 million dollars to St. Louis women who were victims of these products.
Amongst these St. Louis victims was Jacqueline Fox, who passed away from ovarian cancer in 2015. Prior to her diagnosis, Ms. Fox was used Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder for feminine hygiene for over 30 years. Her family was awarded a verdict of $10 million in actual damages and $62 million in punitive damages.
Gloria Ristesund, a user of John’s Baby Powder of nearly 40 years was also diagnosed with ovarian cancer. A jury in St. Louis, Missouri awarded Ms. Ristesund $55 million in compensation and punitive damages.
The effects of prolonged talcum powder use continues to worry. The October ruling, which awarded Deborah Giannecchini $70 million, is just one of thousands of cases being built against Johnson and Johnson. The victims overwhelmingly blame Johnson and Johnson’s negligent production and marketing for their cancers. With the pressure mounting to discontinue the products or provide adequate warning labels, Johnson and Johnson are on the defensive now more than ever.
What Does Johnson and Johnson Say?
Johnson and Johnson is appealing practically all of these cases and maintains that the science behind the allegations is flawed. The company offers their own experts and scientific reports that refute the findings of the scientific reports offered by the plaintiffs in these cases. Both sides have ample amounts of research and findings, each disagreeing with the other.
To date, the FDA.gov website, last updated in October 2014, “FDA found no asbestos contamination in Johnson and Johnson powder products” and has issued no recalls to date of Johnson and Johnson Baby Powder.