Johnson & Johnson Faces Medical Monitoring Lawsuit Over Future Baby Powder Cancer Risks

Women who used Johnson's Baby Powder on their genitals now live in fear of developing ovarian cancer, according to the class action lawsuit seeking medical monitoring for future diagnoses

A class action lawsuit seeks to force Johnson & Johnson to pay for the medical monitoring of thousands of women who used Baby Powder around their genitals for feminine hygiene purposes, unaware that the talcum powder products were exposing them to increased risk of cancer in the future.

Johnson & Johnson already faces more than 60,000 Baby Powder lawsuits and Shower-to-Shower lawsuits brought by women diagnosed with ovarian cancer and other injuries, each raising similar allegations that the manufacturer failed to warn consumers about the future cancer risks from the talcum powder products.

Although the company continues to deny Johnson’s Baby Powder causes cancer, a number of juries have already ordered the company to pay massive damages to women already diagnosed with cancer, for promoting use of the talcum powder by adult women, without warning that bottles may be contaminated with asbestos particles. This new lawsuit now seeks to hold the company accountable to women not yet diagnosed with cancer, but who will require medical monitoring for the rest of their lives.

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Talcum Powder Lawsuits

Talcum powder or talc powder may cause women to develop ovarian cancer.

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In a complaint (PDF) filed this week in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, plaintiffs Joni S. Bynum, Robin Coburn and James Coburn seek class action status to pursue damages from Johnson & Johnson, as well as its subsidiaries LTL Management, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and its spin-off company Kenvue Inc., to cover the costs of regular medical examinations for former talcum powder, in hopes of detecting the development of ovarian cancer from the Baby Powder as early as possible.

The lawsuit comes on the heels of a report in May published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, which found that genital talcum powder use was linked to a 17% increased risk of ovarian cancer.

None of the plaintiffs in this latest lawsuit have been diagnosed with cancer due to the use of Baby Powder, but say they now live in fear of a cancer diagnosis due to their past use of the talcum powder products. The lawsuit indicates Johnson & Johnson was aware of this risk for decades, but failed to take action or warn consumers.

“Beginning as early as the 1950s, Johnson & Johnson tested its talc for contaminant or co-minerals, including ‘asbestos’ and ‘tremolite,’ because the company knew there were deleterious minerals that could be harmful to a person’s health and thus should not be found in talc-based cosmetic products,” the plaintiffs indicate. “At all times relevant hereto Johnson & Johnson understood the dangers posed by asbestos exposure and that asbestos was a known contaminant of talc used in cosmetic and industrial products.”

The lawsuit seeks to represent all female U.S. residents who used talc-containing products by Johnson & Johnson from 1960 and the present, including qualified talc users who were diagnosed with epithelial ovarian cancer, fallopian tube cancer, or primary peritoneal cancer, as well as those who used the products but have not been diagnosed with one of those forms of cancer.

Plaintiffs are calling for the company to pay for medical monitoring for those types of cancers for all qualified class claimants.

June 2024 Talcum Powder Cancer Lawsuit Status

Any amount the company is required to pay to cover the cost of Baby Powder user medical monitoring will come in addition to damages owed to women already diagnosed with ovarian cancer, mesothelioma and other injuries linked to the use of talcum powder around the genitals.

Rather than attempting to negotiate settlements with those individual women, Johnson & Johnson has made two failed attempts to force the litigation into the U.S. bankruptcy system, by transferring all liability it owes for failing to warn about the future cancer risks into a new subsidiary, which them promptly filed for bankruptcy. However, federal judges rejected both efforts, noting that the parent company Johnson & Johnson faced no real financial distress from the litigation, and has sufficient assets to settle the claims.

In May, Johnson & Johnson proposed a third bankruptcy attempt, including a $6.5 billion settlement to resolve all current and future Baby Powder lawsuits involving women diagnosed with ovarian cancer, which makes up the bulk of litigation the company currently faces. However, plaintiffs’ lawyers have again roundly rejected the effort, indicating that the amount of the settlement is insufficient to compensate women who relied on the safety of Johnson & Johnson talcum powder products, as well as future claims the company may face for failing to warn about the cancer risks.

While some claims have been filed in state courts, the bulk of the litigation is currently consolidated in the federal court system, where complaints filed by women nationwide have been centralized as part of a talcum powder multidistrict litigation (MDL) since 2016.

Unless Johnson & Johnson is able to force the claims into the U.S. bankruptcy court system, it is expected that the federal judge presiding over the litigation will soon schedule a series of hearings to evaluate the sufficiency of plaintiffs’ expert witness testimony linking talcum powder and ovarian cancer, then set a series of cases for bellwether trials.

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