A fifth talcum powder lawsuit will head to trial next month in Missouri’s 22nd Circuit Court in St. Louis. According to HarrisMartin.com, jurors will be assembled beginning on April 10th to hear the claims of Lois Slemp, who allegedly developed now-terminal ovarian cancer due to her long-term use of Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based powders for feminine hygiene purposes.
Ms. Slemp’s cancer is now in Stage III(c), and she has experienced a recurrence and metastasis to her liver. Her lawsuit was advanced due to her declining health.
Johnson & Johnson is named a defendant in more than 3,000 talcum powder lawsuits involving its Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower franchises. Plaintiffs pursuing these lawsuits claim that the regular and repeated application of talc-based powders to the female genitals increases the odds that a woman will develop ovarian cancer. Their complaints cite numerous studies dating back to the 1970s that suggest the existence of such a link, as well as internal Johnson & Johnson documents that purportedly show that company officials were aware of this research. However, plaintiffs claim that they chose to ignore this evidence in order to protect the profits earned from Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products.
Missouri’s 22nd Circuit Court is home to one of the country’s largest talcum powder litigations. Over the past year, the proceeding has convened four trials. So far, Johnson & Johnson has scored only one win, in a case that concluded earlier this month. The three other trials ended with verdicts for plaintiffs, with the most recent case concluding in October with a damage award of $70 million for a woman from California. In May, a South Dakota ovarian cancer survivor was awarded $55 million, while the family of an Alabama woman who died of the disease was awarded $72 million last February.
Ms. Slemp’s case was selected for trial by the defense, as was the most recently concluded lawsuit. While Missouri had implemented a system in which each side alternatively selects individual talcum powder lawsuits to try, plaintiffs attorneys chose to advance her claim in order to ensure that she would see her day in court.
Talcum powder litigations are also underway in state courts in New Jersey, Delaware and California. California is scheduled to convene its first trial in July. The case selected for trial was also granted preference by the Court, as the plaintiff is not expected to live for more than six months.
Federally-filed talcum powder lawsuits have also been centralized in a multidistrict litigation currently underway in the U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey. At least 158 cases were pending in that proceeding as of March 15th.