A California man has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson, alleging that his wife’s long-term use of its Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower talc products caused her to develop ovarian cancer that eventually proved fatal. The talcum powder lawsuit also names Imerys Talc America, Rite Aid Corp. and the Gelson’s supermarket chain as defendants.
The decedent’s husband filed suit on April 18, 2016, in Los Angeles Superior Court. According to the complaint, Eva Maria Threadgil used Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based products as part of her feminine hygiene routine for 25 years. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1998 and died in December 2012.
The lawsuit alleges that Johnson & Johnson was aware for years that the regular and repeated application of talc-based powders to the genital area might contribute to the development of ovarian cancer, but concealed this information from the public. Among other things, the complaint points out that Cancer Prevention Coalition notified Johnson & Johnson’s CEO in 1994 of studies suggesting that the use of talcum powder for feminine hygiene posed “a serious risk of ovarian cancer.” The Association for the Research of Cancer concluded in February 2006 that talc-based body powder was a human carcinogen.
Court records indicate that the lawsuit is one of more than 1,200 cases currently pending against Johnson & Johnson that involve talcum powder and ovarian cancer. Hundreds of these claims have been consolidated in Missouri’s St. Louis County Circuit Court, where a jury is currently hearing arguments in the proceeding’s second trial. The plaintiff at the center of that case claims that her decades-long reliance on Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder, as well as existing endometriosis, raised her ovarian cancer risk by 214 percent. Like other claimants, she maintains that talc particles can make their way to the vagina and spread to ovarian tissue when talcum powder is repeatedly applied to the genitals. This may result in inflammation that encourages the growth of cancer cells.
In February, another St. Louis jury became the first in the nation to award monetary damages in a talcum powder lawsuit, after it found that Johnson & Johnson’s products contributed to the ovarian cancer death of another woman. In 2013, a South Dakota jury found that the company failed to warn consumers that genital exposure to talcum powder could encourage the development of ovarian cancer. However, the plaintiff in that case was not awarded any financial compensation.