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Ovarian Cancer Death Blamed On Talcum Powder Exposure

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A wrongful death lawsuit filed against Johnson & Johnson alleges that the side effects of talcum powder exposure caused a Tennessee woman to develop a fatal case of ovarian cancer, joining a growing number of cases pending nationwide over similar problems linked to the use of Johnson’s Baby Powder or Shower-to-Shower for feminine hygiene purposes. 

The complaint (PDF) was filed by James Albertine, Jr. in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, indicating that his wife, Anna Lea Albertine, died in January 2015 after using talcum powder on her perineal region for more than 30 years.

Like possibly millions of other women over the last several decades, Albertine used Johnson’s Baby Powder around her genitals, following marketing that encouraged use among adult women for “personal freshness”. However, the lawsuit indicates that the practice caused her to develop ovarian cancer from talcum powder exposure in May 2010, which ultimately resulted in her death.

The case joins thousands of other Baby Powder lawsuits and Shower-to-Shower lawsuits filed in recent months by women battling ovarian cancer, and the family of women who have died, alleging that Johnson & Johnson knew or should have known about the risks associated with talcum powder exposure, yet failed to warn consumers against placing the powder around the genitals.

“Had Anne Albertine, Deceased, received a warning that the use of J&J Baby Powder would have significantly increased her risk of cancer, she would not have used the same,” the lawsuit states. “As a proximate result of Defendants’ design, manufacture, marketing, sale, and distribution of J&J Baby Powder, Anne Albertine suffered severe pain of mind and body for over five years and was diagnosed with a terminal disease that took her life.”

Last year, at least three bellwether cases went to trials in Missouri state court, each resulting in multi-million dollar damage awards against Johnson & Johnson for failing to provide ovarian cancer warnings for women using talcum powder.

The most recent verdict came in November 2016, with a jury ordering Johnson & Johnson to pay $70 million in compensatory and punitive damages to a woman left with ovarian cancer following users of using talc powder for feminine hygiene. Prior to that case, other juries awarded $72 million in damages in a bellwether trial in February 2016, and $55 million in May 2016.

While there are at least 2,000 state court cases pending in Missouri, a growing number of complaints like Albertine’s continue to be filed throughout the federal court system, where coordinated pretrial proceedings were established in October 2016, centralizing the talcum powder litigation before U.S. District Judge Freda Wolfson in the District of New Jersey.

As part of the MDL proceedings, it is expected that Judge Wolfson will schedule a series of early bellwether trials, which are designed to help gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout the cases. Following the bellwether process, if the parties fail to reach talcum powder settlements or otherwise resolve the litigation, hundreds of individual trials may be set for trial in separate courts nationwide.

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