In 1999, pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) was sued over allegations that the company’s talc-based baby powder contained the known carcinogen asbestos. The lawsuit was filed by Darlene Coker, who, before the case, was an avid user of the product.
Coker had developed mesothelioma, a form of cancer that affected the lungs and other organs. She was baffled, as the illness is mainly caused by exposure to asbestos, a substance she couldn’t have come across in her line of work. During that time, Coker was running a massage school in Lumberton, TX. So, how did she develop the deadly disease?
Determined to get answers, Coker hired personal injury lawyer Herschel Hobson who zeroed in on the likely cause—the Johnson’s Baby Powder which Coker also used on her infant children. She sued J&J, claiming that the “poisonous talc” in the powder was what caused her disease.
J&J denied the claim, saying that their Baby Powder was asbestos-free. During the entirety of the case, the company was able to evade Hobson’s request to release talc test results and other internal records. As a result, Coker was forced to drop the charges due to a lack of evidence.
Fast-forward to 2018. Almost two decades later, over 11,700 victims have filed lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson. Just like Coker, the plaintiffs alleged that the company’s talcum powder caused their cancer. A great majority of the cases involved thousands of women claiming they developed ovarian cancer from years of using J&J’s product.
With the shocking number of lawsuits, J&J was compelled to release years’ worth of company memos, internal reports, and other confidential information to the victims’ lawyers. And in recent developments, the company agreed to pay over $100 million worth of settlements to thousands of plaintiffs claiming that the iconic Baby Powder caused their cancers.
Since 2019, the company has recalled more than 33,000 bottles of baby powder. It has also replaced its talc-based baby powder with cornstarch-based products. However, despite everything that transpired, J&J still stands by the claim that their products are asbestos-free.
Health Risks of Talcum Powder
Talcum or talc is a mineral substance found in various personal and cosmetic products like powders and eye shadows. It is added due to its ability to absorb moisture, prevent caking, and soften products.
However, some forms of talc may contain the carcinogen, asbestos. Unless it is proven to be asbestos-free, talc in powders and other cosmetic products should be avoided.
In the 1970s, doctors found talc particles deeply embedded within patients’ ovarian tumors. In 1982, Harvard researcher Daniel Cramer saw a connection between the use of talc-based products on genitals and ovarian cancer. Since then, more and more researchers have been exploring the potential role of talc in cancer.
Get the Justice You Deserve
Despite years of research, some manufacturers still dismiss the potential link between talc and cancer—case in point, Johnson & Johnson. However, news reports have revealed that these companies were aware of the potential health risks of their products, yet they failed to disclose this vital information to customers.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, reach out to Haffner Law. We are highly experienced in representing clients in personal injury lawsuits such as talc ovarian cancer cases. Our team of lawyers will help you hold the manufacturer accountable and get the compensation you deserve.
Call us at (213) 514-5681 to schedule a no-obligation consultation with our talc ovarian cancer lawyers