Talc Powder Class Action Seeks Compensation for Thousands of Ovarian Cancer Victims

Published on September 13, 2016 by Sandy Liebhard

A recently-filed talcum powder lawsuit could soon add hundreds of new plaintiffs to a nationwide litigation that already includes more than a thousand individual cases. The complaint, which is now pending in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, seeks class action status on behalf any woman who allegedly developed ovarian cancer due to her use of Johnson& Johnson’s talc-based powders, as well as those who might develop the disease in the future.

Shintelle Joseph, the lawsuit’s lead plaintiff, was born in 1979 and diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2006. In her September 7th filing, Joseph claims that her reliance on Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower “for most of her life” caused the disease, and asserts that numerous women have suffered similar harm.

“The members of the Class are so numerous and geographically dispersed that joinder is impractical,” the complaint states. “Plaintiffs believe that the Class includes hundreds if not thousands of persons and spouses of persons who have developed ovarian cancer as a result of the prolonged use of talcum powder based products, and that the locations of such persons are geographically dispersed throughout the country.”

Joseph claims that Johnson & Johnson has long marketed its talcum powder products “as the beacon of ‘freshness’ and ‘comfort’, eliminating friction on the skin, absorbing ‘excess wetness’ helping keep skin feeling dry and comfortable, and ‘clinically proven gentle and mild.’” However, the complaint purports that  as early as 1971, numerous studies suggested that the regular, repeated application of talc- based powders to the female genitals might contribute to the development of ovarian cancer. Yet Johnson & Johnson never included any information on the products’ packaging or otherwise warned consumers of this possible link.

Nationwide Talcum Powder Litigation

Court documents indicate that well over 1,000 similar lawsuits have been filed in U.S. courts on behalf of individual women who allegedly developed ovarian cancer due to Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based powders. Two cases have already gone to trial this year in a consolidated litigation underway in St. Louis, Missouri, both of which concluded with multi-million dollar verdicts in favor of plaintiffs.

Dozens of additional talcum powder lawsuits have been filed in federal courts around the U.S. Plaintiffs recently petitioned the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to centralize those cases in a single U.S. District Court for the purposes of coordinated pretrial proceedings. The Panel will hear oral arguments on the matter on September 29th. If the federal docket is centralized, it is likely that the Louisiana talcum powder class action will be transferred to the new multidistrict litigation.

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