Talcum Powder Dusting Resulted in Ovarian Cancer Diagnosis, and Need For Hysterectomy, Lawsuit Claims

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A South Carolina woman indicates that years of dusting with talcum powder on a daily basis around her genitals caused the development of ovarian cancer, and the need for a hysterectomy. 

Judith Donohoe is the latest in a number of women nationwide who are pursuing product liability lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson and other defendants, alleging that the companies knew about the risks associated with their products for years, yet failed to warn adult women who use talcum powder for feminine hygiene purposes.

The complaint (PDF) was filed last month in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, indicating that Donahoe used products like Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower on a daily basis from about 1963 to 2016, dusting the powder in and around her vaginal area to mask odors and provide “freshness” and “comfort”, as the manufacturers marketed.

In January 2016, Donahoe was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, which she directly related to the talcum powder dusting. Since the diagnosis, Donohoe has undergone an abdominal hysterectomy, bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy, full surgical staging and other treatments.

“Despite the mounting scientific and medical evidence regarding talc use and ovarian cancer that has developed over the past several decades, none of Johnson & Johnson Defendants’ warnings on the product label or in other marketing informed Plaintiff that use of the product in the genital area, as was encouraged by the Johnson & Johnson Defendants, could lead to an increased risk of ovarian cancer,” Donohoe’s lawsuit states. “The Johnson & Johnson Defendants failed to inform its customers and end users of its Products of a known catastrophic health hazard associated with the use of its Products.”

Johnson & Johnson faces several thousand similar Baby Powder lawsuits and Shower-to-Shower lawsuits, each raising allegations that talc contained in the products migrated through the vagina following regular and long-term use, causing the development of ovarian cancer.

Over the past year, 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.

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.

Johnson & Johnson has maintained that it does not intend to offer talcum powder settlements for women diagnosed with ovarian cancer, yet the size of several early jury verdict suggests that the company could face staggering liability if it does not reach a resolution for the litigation.

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