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A 30 year old California woman indicates that she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer from prolonged exposure to talcum powder, including Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower powder applied for feminine hygiene purposes nearly her entire life.
In a product liability complaint (PDF) filed last week in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Jessica E. Bedwell-Jackson indicates that Johnson & Johnson has known that talcum powder may lead to ovarian cancer, yet withheld information from consumers for decades.
Bedwell-Jackson, who was born in 1987, indicates that her moth applied Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder to her body as an infant, and she continued to use talcum powder products throughout her entire life. In February 2017, Bedwell-Jackson was diagnmosed with ovarian cancer following left oophorectomy and salpingectomy procedures.
“Defendants in this action knew or should have known that the use of talcum powder based products in the perineal area significantly increases the risk of cancer, including, but not limited to, ovarian and uterine cancer, based upon scientific knowledge dating back decades,” the lawsuit states. “Had Plaintiff been given warning that the use of the Products would significantly increase her risk of developing cancer, she would not have used them.”
Over the past few years, a number of those cases have gone before state court juries, with many resulting in multi-million dollar damage awards as a result of Johnson & Johnson’s failure to adequately warn about the risks associated with their products. However, the manufacturer is pursuing appeals in each of those cases, and has maintained that it does not intend to offer talcum powder settlements for women diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
Bedwell-Jackson’s case will be consolidated with other federal lawsuits, which are centralized before U.S. District Judge Freda Wolfson in the District of New Jersey, as part of a multidistrict litigation (MDL). Given similar questions of fact and law, the cases have been are being coordinated to reduce duplicative discovery into common issues, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings from different Courts and serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and judicial system.
Following discovery and any bellwether trials held in the MDL, if Johnson & Johnson fails to resolve the litigation, they could face individual trials in courts nationwide. Given the size of several early jury verdicts, this could result in staggering liability for the company.