A jury in St. Louis, Missouri recently awarded a Virginia woman $110.5 million in damages after she alleged that their talcum powder products caused her ovarian cancer. Lois Slemp, a Virginia resident, claimed to have used Johnson & Johnson’s Shower-to-Shower and Baby Powder products over a period of four decades. The damages included $5.4 million in actual damages and $105 million in punitive damages. This follows jury verdicts of $72 million, $55 million, and $70 million against Johnson & Johnson in 2016.
Does Talcum Powder Cause Cancer?
There is debate in the medical industry as to whether here is a link between talc, the main ingredient in talcum powder, and various forms of cancer. Talc is a mineral that is mined from deposits around the world, which is then crushed into a white powder for use in cosmetics and other personal care products to absorb moisture. It is also used in a variety of other products, including paint and plastics. In its natural form, talc contains asbestos, a substance that is known to cause cancer in and around the lungs when inhaled. However, all talcum products sold for home use in the United States have been asbestos-free since the 1970s. Most of the concerns about a link between talcum powder and cancer have been focused in two areas:
- Whether people who have long-term exposure to natural talc fibers at work (such as talc miners) are at higher risk of lung cancer, and
- Whether women who apply talcum powder regularly in the genital area have an increased risk of ovarian cancer.
The general scientific consensus is that talc is safe for human use, with most research having found either no link or a very weak link between ovarian cancer and the use of baby powder for feminine hygiene. However, the International Agency for Research on Cancer asserts that genital use of talc is “possibly carcinogenic.”
Talcum Powder and Products Liability
Most of the evidence in the trial focused on the scientific claims surrounding talcum powder’s cancer risk and whether Johnson & Johnson knew of these risks. The plaintiff alleged that, if the company was aware of risk, then they should have provided a warning label on their products. Under traditional products liability law, companies are required to warn their users of hidden dangers that may be present in their products. If they fail to do so and a consumer is injured, the company is strictly liable for the consumer’s damages. In this case, the jury accepted the plaintiff’s arguments that talcum powder carries a risk of ovarian cancer, that Johnson & Johnson was aware of this risk, and that Johnson & Johnson did not warn of her of it.
Contact an Atlanta Products Liability Attorney
If you have developed ovarian cancer that you believe may have been caused by talcum powder, or suffered any other product-related injury, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact the attorneys at Slappey & Sadd for a free consultation to discuss your case by calling 404.255.6677. We serve the entire state of Georgia, including the following locations: Smyrna, Marietta, and Sandy Springs.