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Talcum Powder Mass Tort Lawsuits

by Christian Scranton

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Talc is a mineral used in a range of personal care products, such as eyeshadow, foundation and deodorants as well as talcum powder. In the context of talc-related lawsuits, talc generally refers to talcum powder. This is primarily because products such as Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower have been shown to contain asbestos at varying levels since they were brought onto the market, and many plaintiffs believe that their use of talcum powder has caused them to fall ill.


How were these products contaminated? As talc is mined, the material obtained from mining may naturally contain traces of other minerals, which can form asbestos under certain conditions. From various studies, it seems evident that talcum powder especially leading up to the nineties was impure and contained other substances that were not advertised.

So, is uncontaminated talc safe? There’s no clear consensus on a link between using even pure talcum powder and cancer or other illnesses. There have been investigations into a possible connection, particularly after scientists found talc particles in lungs, ovaries and the tumors of patients with ovarian cancer. Even back in the early eighties, a study suggested there may be a link between the use of talc on the pelvic area and ovarian cancer in particular. The CDC has acknowledged that the repeated inhalation of talc may harm a person’s lungs, with inhalation causing breathing difficulties in babies especially. The latest science shows that even asbestos-free talc poses a risk when used on the pelvic area or breathed in.

Over the pond, the European Union has deemed talc unsafe and it has been banned in all health and beauty products. There, consumers use baby powders and other cosmetic powders made with cornstarch, arrowroot starch and tapioca starch among others. As the safety of talc is still up for debate among scientists, most talcum powder mass tort lawsuits focus on the asbestos contamination that we already clearly know to be harmful.

The crux of any personal injury case  is proving that the defendant caused damage by failing to uphold their duty of care towards the plaintiff or plaintiffs. As a corporation selling a product, there’s no doubt that Johnson & Johnson and other companies are duty-bound to protect consumers. There is also plenty of evidence to show that this duty was breached. We now have to prove that your illness was likely to be caused by these circumstances. To put it simply: if you had not been exposed to an unsafe product, you would not have developed this illness. If it can also be proven that the company knew that consumers were at risk, the charges may be more serious.

Evidence shows that Johnson & Johnson was aware of asbestos contamination in its products back in the 1950s before the scientific community began its investigations. But it failed to sound the alarm. It was only when consumers began to seek legal action against the company due to cancer they believed was caused by these products that the true extent of the company’s awareness came to light. Reuters has investigated all the internal documentation from Johnson & Johnson as part of these court cases. This paints a clear picture of a company that was aware of asbestos contamination decades ago yet made a concerted effort to keep this information a secret. One consultant for J&J in 1975 even informed the business that the concentration of asbestos-like fibers was “rather high,” yet the company kept this information internal. There is also evidence that they minimized testing to avoid embarrassment and damage to their image as a caring family company.

As mass tort lawsuits can be incredibly expensive for the corporation, we of course expect resistance. These large companies have a lot to lose so are making counterclaims, such as that positive asbestos tests were outlier results or that asbestos fibers from a laboratory building may have contaminated the samples and so on. But the evidence on our side is mounting: tests carried out on behalf of plaintiffs have shown significant levels of asbestos in products from past decades, even as late as the 1990s: one plaintiff lab report recently confirmed that levels were high enough to likely constitute asbestos exposure.

Over six thousand consumers have already filed lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson relating to cancer they believe was caused by the use of talcum powder. The majority of these people are women suffering from ovarian cancer after using talcum powder for personal hygiene alongside people with mesothelioma caused by asbestos fibers in the lungs.

It may seem daunting to go up against such a large industry, but you are not alone. Being part of a mass tort lawsuit means you can benefit from the work that other plaintiffs, lawyers and activists have been doing while still being treated as an individual plaintiff yourself. So, your settlement may be tailored to suit your particular case. We believe this gives you the most significant chance of getting the outcome that is best for you. Scranton Law is experienced in dealing with mass tort cases, so you can trust us to handle your talcum powder case. Whether you believe that inhaling talcum powder or using talc for personal hygiene has caused your illness, we are here to stand up against seemingly untouchable corporations on your behalf. If you have an illness that you believe is related to your exposure to talc, get in touch with our team today so we can pursue your case.

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