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Decades Of Talcum Powder Use Led To Ovarian Cancer Diagnosis, Lawsuit Claims

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A New Jersey woman indicates that more than 30 years of talcum powder use resulted in an ovarian cancer diagnosis, according to allegations raised in a lawsuit filed last week against Johnson & Johnson and other defendants. 

The complaint (PDF) was filed in Delaware Superior Court by Amber Asif, and her husband Mohammad, indicating that Johnson & Johnson, OMJ Pharmaceuticals, Imerys Talc America, Rio Tinto Minerals Inc., and Valeant Pharmaceuticals North America, LLC, failed to warn women about the risks of using talcum powder products for feminine hygiene.

Asif used Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower to dust her perineum from about 1980 through 2016, according to the lawsuit. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012, when she was 42, maintaining that she had no other risk factors for ovarian cancer and the talcum powder use resulted in her cancer.

Like thousands of other Baby Powder lawsuits and Shower-to-Shower lawsuits filed by women and their families nationwide, Asif indicates that the manufacturers knew or should have known about the risks of talcum powder exposure for decades, but failed to warn women or the medical community.

“In 1997 Defendant Johnson & Johnson was informed that several investigators have independently reported talc particles in ovarian tissue,” the lawsuit states. “However, Defendants do not warn or otherwise inform consumers anywhere, including on the product labeling or in their marketing or advertising for the product, that use of their products may be harmful to health, including significantly increasing the risk of ovarian cancer.”

Over the past few years, a number of talcum powder ovarian cancer cases have gone before state court juries, with many resulting in multi-million dollar damage awards over 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.

While thousands of cases have been filed in state courts nationwide, many others have also been filed in the federal court system.

Given similar questions of fact and law presented in other cases filed in U.S. District Courts nationwide, centralized pretrial proceedings have been established in the District of New Jersey, before U.S. District Judge Freda Wolfson. Known as a multidistrict litigation (MDL), the federal cases have been centralized 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 coordinated 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.

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