New Jersey Talcum Powder Lawsuits Up For Multi-County Centralization
More than 100 lawsuits filed against talcum powder manufacturers claiming a link between the product and ovarian cancer have been brought before a New Jersey state court in hopes of being centralized for multi-county litigation.
Tuesday, June 23, 2015 - More than 100 lawsuits claiming that multiple companies, including Johnson & Johnson, were aware of the ovarian cancer risk posed to consumers by its talcum powder products are seeking centralization via multi-county litigation in a New Jersey state court. Lawyers representing the defendants have requested the lawsuits in New Jersey be centralized before Judge Nelson C. Johnson in the Atlantic City Superior Court. More than 80 of the lawsuits are currently pending in Atlantic County, making the Atlantic City Superior Court the preferred venue for centralization.
The plaintiffs in the baby powder cancer lawsuits claim that Johnson & Johnson, Imerys Talc America Inc. and Personal Care Products Council either were aware of or should have known about the risk of ovarian cancer present in their Shower-To-Shower and Baby Powder products. The complaints also claim that the warning labels affixed to the product did not mention this risk, which they listed as a failure to warn consumers of the dangerous properties of those products.
The warning labels only mentioned hazardous risk if the powder made contact with a consumer's eyes or was inhaled. Plaintiffs are claiming that if the proper warning label was used detailing the possible link to cancer, they may have made a decision against purchasing the product and taking that health risk. Accusations of negligence as well as breach of warranty were included in the lawsuits up for centralization.
Attorneys representing the plaintiffs claim that research into the connection between ovarian cancer and talcum powder has demonstrated that when used, there is a risk of the powder making its way through a woman's vaginal canal and causing serious complications upon reaching the ovaries. The possibility of this leading to cancer has reportedly led to talcum powders leading to a 30 percent increase in the risk for ovarian cancer for women who use talcum powder products, per a study published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research.
Despite multiple studies supporting a link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer, the defendants continue to dispute claims that the alleged connection exists. In the centralization request, the defendants referenced studies conducted recently that cast doubt on the claims made by the plaintiffs. However, the research presented by the defense does not outright deny the purported link between talcum powder and cancer. Instead, the studies only claim that the "strength of association, if present at all, is weak," and that the "powder does not appear to influence ovarian cancer risk."
While a large number of lawsuits have been filed over talcum powder have been filed in New Jersey, there are other locations in the country dealing with similar litigation. More than 700 talcum powder lawsuits have been filed nationwide, most of them filed in courts in New Jersey and St. Louis. A Special Master was recently appointed in May for the St. Louis talcum powder litigation to assist in the complex procedures necessary to deal with those claims. The number of claims against talcum powder manufacturers is expected to increase over the coming months as more potential plaintiffs hear of the link between the product and ovarian cancer and choose to join the growing litigation against the defendants.