Another talcum powder lawsuit is heading to trial this week in St. Louis Missouri, where jury selection is already underway. The case chosen for trial was filed on behalf of an ovarian cancer survivor from California who has accused Johnson & Johnson of “negligent conduct” in the manufacturing and marketing of Baby Powder.
According to her lawsuit, Deborah Giannecchini had been using Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder as part of her daily feminine hygiene routine for years when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012. Her attorneys are expected to argue the company was aware that the regular, repeated application of talc-based powders to the female genitals could contribute to the development of ovarian cancer, but concealed this information from consumers. Much of the trial will focus on studies from as far back as the 1970s that purportedly suggest such a link, as well as internal Johnson & Johnson documents.
“The internal documents show that as the medical community became aware that talc causes cancer, they (Johnson and Johnson) began target-marketing to blacks and hispanics, the two groups they knew were at risk and who were the highest user rates,” one of the plaintiff’s lawyers recently told CBS St. Louis.
For its part, Johnson & Johnson claims that there is no scientific basis for Giannecchini’s allegations.
Court records indicate that Johnson & Johnson is facing more than 1,800 talcum powder lawsuits that put forth similar allegations regarding ovarian cancer. Two cases have already gone to trial in the Missouri litigation, which ended with the jury finding for the plaintiffs, and awarding damages of $72 million and $55 million.
Two New Jersey cases were supposed to go to trial in October, but earlier this month a judge in Atlantic County Superior Court granted Johnson & Johnson’s request for summary judgment, and dismissed both actions. The Court’s September 2nd Order found that the plaintiffs had not produced sufficient material evidence to prove that the company’s Baby Powder had caused their ovarian cancer.
Plaintiffs’ attorneys say they plan to appeal the New Jersey decision, and pointed out that judges in other states have found that there are sufficient links between talc and ovarian cancer to allow similar cases to proceed to trial.