Since the beginning of 2018, the American judicial system has seen a marked increase in the number of talc-related cancer lawsuits. Some of these lawsuits target manufacturers, claiming that talcum powders sold to consumers actually had contamination from asbestos. Johnson & Johnson is one company that has already faced, and lost, a number of lawsuits related to contaminated talc powders and the potential link to cancer.
Asbestos is a known carcinogen that is linked to several kinds of cancer, including the incredibly aggressive and deadly cancer mesothelioma. In nature, deposits of talc and asbestos often occur in close proximity to one another. Chemical testing by some labs has shown asbestos contamination in baby powders as well as makeup marketed to teenagers.
Consumers with cancers linked to asbestos are now pushing back by seeking compensation from manufacturers who did not take adequate care to protect them. Already, there has been a multi-million dollar award this year for a single plaintiff case.
A lawsuit in Missouri has 22 plaintiffs seeking justice
On Monday, June 4, jury selection began in a talcum powder trial slated to take place in St Louis. The case hinges on claims that baby powder products from Johnson & Johnson were contaminated by asbestos and contributed to the development of ovarian cancer in women who used the product regularly. Other lawsuits in recent months have made the same claim successfully, bolstered, in part, by internal records from the health and beauty company.
In the past, there have been successful suits brought against Johnson & Johnson in St Louis courts. Attorneys for the plaintiffs in this case clearly hope that that precedent will improve their chances of a successful lawsuit. For those facing a serious cancer diagnosis, like ovarian cancer or mesothelioma, the potential link to a trust consumer product is frustrating. After all, if a company markets a product for use with babies, most people assume it is safe.
Consumers have a right to safe and tested health and beauty products
For many consumers, the crux of the issue with talcum powder is not the potential contamination so much as it is the efforts by Johnson & Johnson to ignore potential contamination. Leaked internal documents make it clear that there were concerns about asbestos in their products as far back as the 1970s. Executives dismissed any potential contamination level as safe, as it was likely below the limit set for asbestos miners, the only legal standard for asbestos safety in place at the time. Instead of abandoning mines where deposits were known to have asbestos contamination or labeling products with warnings, Johnson & Johnson has simply insisted that their products are not contaminated and are safe for public use.