Last week, a St. Louis jury awarded $72 million to the family of a victim who alleged that her ovarian cancer was caused by personal use talcum powder. Theplaintiff alleged that the decedent used Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder and Shower to Shower body powder for feminine hygiene for more than 35 years. The decedent, Jacqueline Fox, passed away at the age of 62. Plaintiff alleged that Johnson & Johnson knew that the talc in its products could cause cancer, but failed to warn customers of the dangers and instead made a deliberate decision to hide this risk. Johnson & Johnson alleged that the safety of cosmetic talc is supported by scientific evidence.
In response questions about the safety of talc following the verdict, Johnson & Johnson posted an article on its blog on February 24, 2016, about the safety of talc. The company reiterated that talc is “approved as safe for use in cosmetic and personal care products” and that its talc products “do not contain asbestos.” While the Fox matter was not an asbestos litigation matter, there has been a rise in asbestos litigation involving various talc products alleged to have caused asbestos-related diseases. The $72 million dollar verdict represents $10 million dollars in compensatory damages and $62 million dollars in punitive damages. Co-defendant Imerys Talc America, Inc. received a complete defense verdict. Another trial related to talc and ovarian cancer is set to begin in St. Louis on April 11, 2016. In that case, Plaintiff Gloria Ristesund alleges that the use of baby powder led to her development of ovarian cancer.