Once the go-to means of keeping babies dry, talcum powder has been a known danger for infants and children who inhale the fine powder. Recently, new lawsuits have been filed by women making claims that the powder is also a cause of ovarian cancer. These suits have mostly been filed against Johnson & Johnson, a major distributor of talcum powder.
The Suit that Started it All
Following a successful claim against the company in 2013, Johnson & Johnson is now facing two class action lawsuits that were filed by women claiming talcum powder in the company’s products was responsible for their ovarian cancer. The company manufactures two top-selling talc products, Johnson’s Baby Powder and its line of Shower to Shower line of powders.
In 2013, Deane Berg, a resident of South Dakota, won a legal claim against the company after arguing that Johnson & Johnson was negligent for failing to warn her (and customers like her) that the baby powder could put her at an increased risk for ovarian cancer, which she eventually developed and was diagnosed within 2006. In fact, when cancerous tissue was removed from Berg, it was found to have talc embedded in it. Since Berg’s case, the two new class actions make claims that the company was negligent for its failure to warn consumers of this risk, particularly women.
The Potential Connection
Talcum powder may have some purposes, but its most common are for the use on areas that might be covered by a baby’s diaper or for women seeking to keep their private parts dry and fresh. In fact, Johnson & Johnson markets their products to target these groups to use their powers in this way. Medical studies, according to the American Cancer Society, are still offering mixed results as to talcum powder’s potential danger. However, given the product’s traditional use on private areas of the body, it is easy to understand the concern it is connected to ovarian cancer risk.
The California Claim
Mona Estrada of Stockton, Calif., filed a class action on April 14, 2014, in the Eastern District of California against Johnson & Johnson. Estrada is claiming that the company was negligent and breached the implied warranty of its product, as well as violating its consumers’ legal remedies and the Unfair Competition law and business and professions code. According to Estrada, studies show that women who use powders containing talc on their genital area are a third more likely to develop ovarian cancer than women who do not use the products. She also claims that Johnson & Johnson was aware of the risks, yet made no effort to inform consumers of the potential danger.
Estrada, herself, does not have ovarian cancer, but according to her attorneys, this suit is filed on behalf of women who have been put at risk by the product. Despite not developing cancer, Estrada was a regular consumer of talc-based powders, using them for decades before discovering the alleged risks of the product.
The Illinois Suit
Barbara Mihalich of Illinois soon filed a class action claim in the Southern District of her home state against Johnson & Johnson, as well as Johnson Consumer Companies. Her suit was filed a month following Estrada’s claim. She argued that the company was in violation of the stat’es Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practice Act and that it profited unjustly from the sale and consumer use of its talcum powder products. Though, like Estrada, Mihalich was not diagnosed with ovarian cancer but used the product for many years; she claims that she is bringing the action on behalf of herself and other Illinois consumers in a similar position.