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After using Shower-to-Shower and Johnson’s Baby Powder for most of her life to control moisture and odor, a Pennsylvania woman indicates that she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at age 53, alleging that Johnson & Johnson failed to adequately warn women about the side effects of talc exposure.
The complaint (PDF) was filed last week by Julie Segreaves in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, naming Johnson & Johnson, Imerys Talc America, Inc, and the Personal Care Products Council as defendants.
Although Johnson’s Baby Powder is most commonly associated with use among infants to prevent diaper rash and maintain smooth skin, the talcum powder is also widely used among adult women and Johnson & Johnson has promoted such use to maintain “personal freshness.” Given the popularity of baby powder among adult women, the company introduced and marketed Shower-to-Shower body powder for this specific purpose.
Segreaves indicates that she used Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower for decades to dust her genital area, or perineum, for feminine hygiene. She indicates that this was an intended and foreseeable use of the talcum powder products, based on advertisements, marketing and the lack of any label warnings indicating that it should not be used in that manner.
In December 2014, Segreaves was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, which she alleges was caused by the Defendants’ “calculated and reprehensible conduct.”
The case joins more than 2,000 similar Johnson’s Baby Powder lawsuits and Shower-to-Shower lawsuits filed nationwide on behalf women diagnosed with ovarian cancer nationwide, raising nearly identical allegations that consumers were not adequately warned about the link between daily talcum powder use and cancer.
“This action arises out of the Plaintiff Julie Segreaves’ diagnosis of ovarian cancer, which was directly and proximately caused by her regular and prolonged use of talcum powder containing products known as Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder and Shower to Shower in the perineal area,” the lawsuit states. “Plaintiff’s damages are a direct and proximate result of Defendants’ and/or their corporate predecessors negligent, willful, and wrongful conduct in connection with the design, development, manufacture, testing, packaging, promoting, marketing, distribution, labeling, and/or sale of the products.”
So far this year, at least three talcum baby powder ovarian cancer cases have gone to trial against Johnson & Johnson over the cancer risk associated with their popular products. Each of those trials resulted in a multi-million dollar damage award due to the failure to provide appropriate warnings for women.
The most recent verdict came last month, hitting Johnson & Johnson with $70 million in compensatory and punitive damages.
Segreaves’ case will be consolidated with all other federal talcum powder lawsuits pending nationwide, which are centralized as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation, before U.S. District Judge Freda Wolfson in the District of New Jersey. Following coordinated discovery and any bellwether trials scheduled in the MDL, if talcum powder cancer settlements or another resolution for the cases is not reached, each claim may ultimately be remanded back to the U.S. District Court where it was originally filed for a separate trial date in the future.