One year after Deane Berg victoriously claimed that Johnson & Johnson was negligent for failing to warn consumers that the use of the company’s talcum-based powder products could put consumers at jeopardy of developing ovarian cancer, the company became the subject of two class action law suits claiming that Johnson & Johnson was responsible for female consumers developing ovarian cancer.
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Effects of Talcum Power
For many years, talcum-based powders were used by women to control moisture and prevent the development of odor around women’s genital areas. This practice led to the exposure of talcum powder to women’s reproductive tracts. Research has shown that long-term use of talcum-based powders in this fashion could put women at a greater risk of developing ovarian cancer.
Berg v. Johnson & Johnson
For 32 years, Deane Berg, a South Dakota resident, had been a daily user of Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower powder products. After long-term exposure to these talcum-based products, Berg was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. When cancerous tissues were removed from Berg’s body and examined by three physicians, talcum particles were found rooted in the tissue and confirmed to be the cause of her ovarian cancer. Berg sued the pharmaceutical giant for their negligence in failing to warn women of the dangerous effects of talcum powder to women’s health, and the jury’s decision was that Johnson & Johnson had in fact been negligent. However, Berg was awarded no damages in the case.
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Class Action Suits
Two class action lawsuits were filed against Johnson & Johnson – one in California and the other in Illinois. In California, the charges against Johnson & Johnson were filed by Mona Estrada and included: negligence, breach of implied warranty, violating consumer’s legal remedies, and violating the Unfair Competition Law and Business and Professions Code. Estrada had been using Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder for approximately 63 years, and although she herself did not have ovarian cancer, she claimed that she filed the suit on behalf of herself and other women after research had shown the harmful links between talcum powder and women’s health. She claims that although Johnson & Johnson was aware of these harmful links, the company made no effort to warn consumers about them.
One month later, a similar class action suit was filed in the Southern District of Illinois. There, Barbara Mihalich claimed that Johnson & Johnson had violated the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practice Act by profiting from its talcum-based products. Mihalich also had not been diagnosed with ovarian cancer but claims that the suit was brought on behalf of herself and consumers like her in Illinois.
Even following the aftermath of such high-profile cases, there are still manufacturers failing to warn consumers of the dangers of their talcum-based products. With more medical research backing the claims of the negative links between talcum powder and women’s health, an increase in similar law suits seems likely.
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