Numerous lawsuits have been filed over the past several decades over various harmful side effects of talcum powder products. Usually, the problem has been the alleged presence of asbestos in the talc used to make the product rather than the talc itself. Johnson & Johnson has become the focus of talc lawsuits in the news media, due to the huge settlements they have been forced to pay -but in fact, there are other companies that have faced, or are facing now, similar suits.
At Consumer Alert Now, we work hard to keep you constantly informed about all the major (and many of the smaller scale) defective and dangerous product lawsuits. Talcum powder suits certainly rank high on this list. Below, we cover the connection between talcum powder use and ovarian cancer, lung cancer, and other dire conditions. We also explain to you your rights to compensation if you have been injured by these products and how to avail yourself of a good lawyer who understands this practice area.
Talc Lawsuits In The News
In July 2018, Johnson & Johnson had to hand of $4.7 billion to 22 plaintiffs in a landmark ovarian cancer suit, due to a failure to sufficiently warn against cancer risk on its talcum powder products. Only $550 million was for financial compensation as such, while the bulk of the judgment ($4.1 billion) was punitive. And while that's big news, it's really just the tip of the talc lawsuit "iceberg." Over 9,000 people are currently suing J & J for similar matters. Plus, similar suits exist against other major talcum powder product companies in the US.
There are people who have actually died from ovarian and other forms of cancer that may have been caused by stray asbestos particles found in talc used in baby powder, shower to shower powders, and other products. Although it has been alleged for some 50 years that asbestos has been getting into these products, no switch to cornstarch-based products occurred and many allege that J & J and others engaged in a decades-long cover-up of the evidence.
This is obviously a great cause for concern, especially since talc is such a commonly used substance in today's economy. Baby powder, feminine powders, body and foot powders, cosmetics, condoms, chalk, and more all sometimes contain talc. Talc is a naturally occurring substance that is ground up into a powder and valued for its extreme absorption abilities. It reduces friction, keeps skin dry, and helps prevent diaper rashes. However, some talc contains asbestos particles (also a naturally occurring substance) in it where it is mined -and if these are not removed, it can potentially cause cancer since asbestos has been shown to have a link with certain cancers.
Is There Really A Talc-Cancer Connection?
There has been a mass of evidence collected from numerous studies over the past five decades that associate frequent talcum powder usage with higher rates of ovarian cancer. There are around forty peer reviewed published articles in highly respected medical journals to that effect, beginning in 1971 and continuing in a steady stream up to the present. Talc particles are frequently found in cancerous tumors in women -both with ovarian and perineal cancer.
Additionally, those who have had heavy exposure to talc over a long period of time, such as people working in talcum powder factories or those mining talc, are at higher risk of developing lung cancer should they breathe talc into their lungs.
Now, asbestos free talcum powder does not have the evidence against it as a cancer-causer that asbestos containing talc does. There is less agreement on pure talc's effects on the human body, but most admit that asbestos in any detectable amount incorporated into talc powder is a real cause of cancer.
Studies on talc have been done on both people and animals over the years. Lab mice, rats, and hamsters are often exposed to specific doses of talc over a period of time at controlled intervals. Cancer cells sometimes form in the "guinea pigs," sometimes even when asbestos free talc is used. Also, talc may be brought into contact with normal cells in a lab dish to see if any cancer-like changes take place.
Studies involving human beings are more relevant and decisive, and yet the results of such studies are often disputed. A study might compare cancer rates in groups of people who used talcum powders to those who didn't and to the general population. But, as many other factors could be at play, it's hard to prove the point beyond all scientific doubt.
Talcum Powder & Ovarian Cancer
Ovarian cancer lawsuits are probably the most common talc-related suits at present. When talc particles get inside the vagina and into the ovaries, it is thought that they may contribute to triggering cancerous tumors to form there. Finding talc fibers inside of such tumors and statistical analyses are the main points of evidence.
Of course, if a person using talcum powder was developing cancerous tumors in their ovaries for other reasons, and talc particles traveled to the tumor site and got incorporated into the tumor -it would be possible that its presence in the tumors in no way indicates a cause-effect relationship. That's the kind of argument that talcum powder product manufacturers are likely to make.
Studies of some types find a higher risk level for ovarian cancer if you use talc-containing products, while others do not. Studies can be off based on variants like which type of talc-product is used, how long or in what way it was used, how the study was conducted, or how well women remembered their talcum powder use habits from years earlier. That's why there is so much disagreement over the meaning of study results despite so many studies on the talc-cancer connection being done over the years.
The theory is that talc particles travel into the ovaries, get embedded in the tissue there, cause inflammation and irritation to the ovary walls, and finally promote the growth of deformed, cancerous cells and the resultant tumor. This is a common ground for lawsuits against companies that make talcum powder hygiene products if they did not properly and prominently warn consumers of the danger of ovarian cancer that comes with using the product.
Talc & Lung Cancer
Some studies have shown that those mining or milling talc have a higher risk of developing lung cancer or chronic respiratory conditions. Other studies, however, have not concurred. This could well be due to the fact that natural talc contains differing quantities of asbestos and of other minerals. Plus, miners who spend a lot of time underground could be exposed to radon gas, which can increase the risk of lung cancer.
There is no evidence of a higher risk of lung cancer based on increased use or exposure to cosmetic forms of talcum powder. Pure talc does not seem to cause lung cancer but only asbestos, and perhaps other substances, sometimes contained in it.
There are other respiratory problems, however, that even non-asbestos-containing talc may be responsible for. Infants who breathe in talc from baby powder may breathe irregularly, vomit, go into convulsion, or have their skin turn bluish temporarily. Adults who inhale it, too, may cough, wheeze, have irritated lungs, and breathe abnormally for a time. And there is evidence that talc inhalation may cause pneumonia or asthma in some people with, particularly sensitive lungs.
Talc & Other Cancers
Another cancer often blamed on talc products is endometrial cancer. This is a cancer of the uterus' inner lining, which is named the "endometrium." One study concluded that women using talcum powder weekly and in menopause had a greater risk of endometrial cancer.
There has also been a small amount of research on a connection between talc inhalation and the development of stomach cancer. But currently, the only two strongly attested cancers with a likely link to talcum powder are ovarian cancer and lung cancer.
What Do "The Experts" Say About the Dangers of Talc?
There are a number of specialized agencies, some US and some international, that are dedicated to studying the possible link between cancers and various naturally occurring substances. The International Agency for Research on Cancer, a subgroup of the World Health Organization, is prominent among them -and often relied on by the American Cancer Society as a prime source of research.
This organization specifically calls asbestos containing talc "carcinogenic," which means "cancer-causing." They do not consider talc inhaled into the lungs to be a carcinogen (cancer-causing substance) if it does not contain asbestos. They list talc used in the genital area in hygiene products as "possibly" carcinogenic.
What this amounts to is that everyone admits the cancer risk involved with asbestos, wherever it is found. But when it comes to pure talcum powder, there is widespread disagreement and uncertainty among the scientific community.
The Prevalence of Talc Powder Lawsuits
To this day, Johnson & Johnson and other talcum powder product producer vehemently deny that their products are in any way dangerous or harmful to consumers. They continue to fight the legal battle step by step and appeal decisions against them for billions of dollars in damages every time they can. And yet, the sheer number of lawsuits being filed over alleged talc related cancer cases -especially ovarian cancer, continues to mount, with over 1,000 suits in process and two major class action suits ongoing at present.
Ovarian cancer is a very aggressive form of cancer that, though it begins in the ovaries, soon spreads to other parts of the body. At first, there are not a lot of obvious symptoms, and most women don't even know they have it or even suspect enough to get a cancer check-up until it is late stage and often too late. Cancer treatments are often of limited success by the time ovarian cancer is discovered. Some women do recover after chemo, radiation treatment, and/or surgical removal of the cancerous tumor(s), but this is easily the most destructive and life-threatening of all the reproductive cancers.
The basis of most suits against J & J for its baby powder and shower to shower powder products, and other manufacturers, is that the accused knew that there was a serious danger of developing ovarian cancer by those using talcum powder hygiene powders, and yet, they did not properly warn the consumer of this danger.
Am I Eligible for Compensation in a Talcum Powder Suit?
If you have ovarian cancer, lung cancer, or another condition that may have been caused by regular use of a talcum powder product, then it is at least possible you would qualify to join a class action or mass tort action or to file an individual suit on that basis. It's true that not everyone who thinks they should be allowed to sue ends up winning or even getting a lawyer to agree they have a viable case -but many do, and you'll never know if you don't at least contact an experienced talcum powder attorney for a 100% free case evaluation.
Also, most tort lawyers work on a contingency basis. That means you don't pay upfront or out of pocket, but simply agree to give a portion of any settlement or court judgment won to your attorney as his or her pay. So, there's really no risk in finding out. Remember that although Consumer Alert Now conducts a national campaign to help victims of talcum powder injuries, and there are lawsuits that may include plaintiffs from multiple states -personal injury laws vary from state to state, so compensation varies by state too.
How will your case be evaluated? Well, here are some examples of the types of questions your lawyer will need to ask in the course of his or her case evaluation:
- What have you been diagnosed with? Ovarian cancer, lung cancer, a respiratory disorder, or something else? You have to get a doctor's diagnosis as part of the evidence. It can't just be based on that you think you have a particular condition -but you can talk to a lawyer even before talking to your doctor if you wish just to get the facts on the legal aspect.
- Did you use Johnson & Johnson's Baby Powder, Shower to Shower, or another talcum powder containing product regularly for 4 or more years consecutively?
- Do you have a family history of ovarian or lung cancer or another disorder you have?
- Did you get a biopsy that showed talcum powder particles in the cancerous tumor or in proximity to it?
Those are the usual standards, but each case can be a little different too. So, if you used talcum powder for only three and a half years but used it in large quantities almost every day, you may not be held to the "four year rule." Or, if your suit is not about a product already associated with existing suits -may be a brand that had seemed safe up till now, it is possible your case could be strong enough to merit the beginning of a lawsuit against a whole new company. The point is, don't immediately give up before talking to a lawyer and understanding exactly where you stand legally.
How Will My Attorney Handle My Case?
Of course, every lawyer and law firm are a little different, but when filing a lawsuit over talcum powder injuries, whether, for cancer or something else, you are dealing with one of several types of tort actions: defective product, dangerous product, or failure to warn.
A defective product suit involves the idea that a product was accidentally manufactured improperly (not according to plan) so as to end up causing harm to the product user. If an attempt was made to find and remove asbestos from talc, for example, but the removal process didn't work at a particular factory, that would be a defectively manufactured product.
A dangerous product is one that, even when manufactured in the way the manufacturer intends, is inherently dangerous. This involves more than the fact that any product may come with certain risks, especially if misused; it means when used properly, the product has an unreasonably degree or risk of serious bodily injury or death.
A failure to warn suit could be based on a total lack of any warning label in regard to a particular risk; but it could also be a failure to adequately warn of the true level of risk and the severity of the problems that could result from the use of the product. The warning label should also be prominently placed and in accord with any and all FDA regulations on the matter.
If you are starting up a whole new, individual suit, the process might take longer. But with talcum powder lawsuits, you can often find an existing class action suit to simply join in on. But first, you have to qualify. After evaluating your case as described in the section just above, your attorney will make an initial judgment. He will then, if he thinks you may have a good case, need to ensure you get diagnosed if you haven't already, see your medical records and review them at some point, and look at the pathology report on the biopsy.
Note that the initial biopsy may not have shown any talc fibers in the tumor because the doctor wasn't looking for them. He was just focused, at the time, on diagnosing the tumor and finding the best treatment for you once it became clear it was cancerous. A second biopsy may be necessary, therefore.
How Much Compensation Am I Entitled to in a Talcum Powder Lawsuit?
There is no set amount saying exactly how much a person is entitled to receive in compensation for ovarian cancer or lung cancer caused by talcum powder products. First of all, a detailed assessment (with the help of your lawyer) of all expenses, medical and otherwise, that stemmed from the harm done by the product needs to be made. Then, added to that will be the loss of income you have endured due to the condition. That is the one end of the claim.
The other side is the compensation for physical pain and suffering and for mental or emotional loss and anguish. This amount is sometimes capped in certain US states, or it may be determined by multiplying the financial-based compensation by a specific number - maybe 3, 4, or 5. Thus, pain and suffering usually get more compensation than does actual financial loss.
Punitive damages may also be assessed if the court thinks the company was negligent in an extreme way and wants to discourage other companies from doing the same. Your lawyer will take a certain portion of the settlement as a fee, but some states let you get compensated for your legal fees by the plaintiff if you win your case. Some plaintiffs have won millions of dollars in settlements for talcum powder personal injury cases, but it varies from state to state and from case to case.
Consumer Alert Now helps you to find the very best talcum powder attorneys and law firms who have deep experience in handling this practice area and who have a long track record of winning their suits. We are not a law firm ourselves, nor do we give out "medical advice" as such, but we make all the relevant information easily available and make it fast and easy to find a top-tier attorney who will give you a free case evaluation without delay.
Finding Help for A Talcum Powder Lawsuit Near Me
Have you or a loved one been seriously injured from a talcum powder product OR do you strongly suspect that this may be the case? You don't have to suffer alone and uncompensated if your condition is the result of the negligence of talcum powder manufacturers.
Contact Consumer Alert Now at (800) 511-0747, from anywhere in the US, anytime 24/7, and we can help you get a free case evaluation with an experienced talc attorney. We can help you learn how to join a class action or mass tort suit with others who have suffered from talc products in ways very similar to your experience.