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Talcum Powder Cancer Diagnosis Led To Need For Hysterectomy, Multiple Surgeries, Lawsuit Claims

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More than five decades of exposure to talcum powder caused an ovarian cancer diagnosis, according to allegation raised in a product liability lawsuit filed by a woman who subsequently required a hysterectomy and multiple surgeries.

The complaint (PDF) was brought earlier this month by Nandikumarie Carpenk, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. It names Johnson & Johnson as the defendant, indicating that widely used talc-based products like Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower increase the risk of cancer.

Carpen, who was born in 1964, indicates she used the Johnson & Johnson talcum powder products her entire life for feminine hygiene, regularly applying the powder around her genitals, which she indicates resulted in a diagnosis of ovarian cancer in August 2016.

According to the lawsuit, Carpen has undergone a radical abdominal hysterectomy, pelvic lymph adenectomy, and paraaortic lymph node biopsy, as well as a bilateral salpingo oophorectomy, where both ovaries and the fallopian tubes are removed.

The case raises similar allegations to those presented against Johnson & Johnson in nearly 12,000 other Johnson’s Baby Powder lawsuits and Shower-to-Shower lawsuits pending in courts nationwide, claiming that the manufacturer has known for decades about the potential link between talcum powder and cancer, yet failed to warn consumers.

“Defendants had a duty to know and warn about the hazards associated with the use of the Products,” Carpen’s lawsuit states. “In addition, Defendants procured and disseminated false, misleading, and biased information regarding the safety of the Products to the public including the Plaintiff and used influence over governmental and regulatory bodies regarding talc.”

Given similar questions of fact and law raised in complaints filed throughout the federal court system, all talcum powder cancer diagnosis cases are consolidated for pretrial proceedings as part of a multidistrict litigation (MDL), which is centralized before U.S. District Judge Freda L. Wolfson in the District of New Jersey.

A number of cases have already gone to trial at the state level, with several resulting in large verdicts for plaintiffs diagnosed with ovarian cancer or mesothelioma. Last month, a jury awarded a $29 million verdict for failing to warn about the risk of mesothelioma from talcum powder. In addition, last year a Missouri jury returned a landmark $4.7 billion verdict for 22 women diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

Johnson & Johnson is appealing each of the prior verdicts, and previously indicated that it intends to continue to fight the cases at trial. However, it was recently reported that the company reached settlements to resolve at least three talcum powder cancer claims that were either in the middle of trial or set to begin in the coming weeks.

If Judge Wolfson determines that plaintiffs have sufficiently reliable evidence about the link between talcum powder and cancer to proceed to trial under federal rules, it is expected that a small group of “bellwether” cases will be set for trial in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. However, unless the parties are able to negotiate additional talcum powder settlements or otherwise resolve the litigation, it is expected that large numbers of cases will eventually be remanded back to different federal district courts for individual trial dates in the future.

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