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Talcum Powder

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Talcum Powder

What You Need to Know About TALCUM POWDER

Have you developed cancer, or been harmed in other ways by your use of talcum powder? The time to act is NOW. Call the Clauson Law Firm today, toll-free, at 833-680-0177 or reach us by e-mail at info@clausonlaw.com. We’re standing by to hear from you.

To best explain the current controversy surrounding talcum powder—and to help you decide whether to consult an attorney for help—this page will provide definitions, facts and figures about talcum powder. At the Clauson Law Firm, we believe that everyone deserves the best, most accurate information affecting their lives. So read on, and if you need to reach out, The Clauson Law Firm is here for you.

It All Starts Here: Talcum Powder Becomes a Household Product

It goes by several different names: talc, talcum or talcum powder, but by any of those names it is talc, a mineral found in the Earth that is considered the world’s softest mineral. Talc, like other minerals, is mined. The United States is the fourth-largest talc mining country in the world, mining talc in the eastern Appalachian and Piedmont regions, and in western and southwestern states like California, Montana, Nevada, Texas and Washington.

  • Comprising magnesium, silicon, hydrogen and oxygen, its powdered form has been on U.S. store shelves since 1894, when it was first marketed by Johnson & Johnson. Mennen joined the talcum market in 1898.
  • Because talcum powder is both soft on the skin and has significant drying properties, it has been used to combat diaper rash in infantsfrom its introduction.
  • Adults use talc, too: for their skin, and in cosmetics such as eye shadow and blush, to absorb moisture.
  • Talc can also appear in food products like chewing gum, or in tablets as a binding agent.

Yesterday’s Powder is Today’s Mass Tort: Talcum Powder Litigation

Currently, talcum powder is the subject of an estimated 13,000-16,000 lawsuits across the United States.

That sounds like a lot of lawsuits. Why so many?

Talc is often associated with asbestos—a cancer-causing agent that itself remains the subject of ongoing, expensive mass tort litigation. Many current lawsuits assert that talc, in its association with asbestos, can cause cancer.

But asbestos is dangerous!

Yes, it is. Asbestos has been linked to

  • Lung cancer
  • Mesothelioma (a rare cancer found in the lungs, chest, or the heart)
  • Asbestosis, a progressive, non-cancerous disease of the lungs

So how is talc related to asbestos?

Basically, talc and asbestos are sometimes neighbors. To see the association, consider this: talc is believed to occur in the Earth adjacent to minerals found in asbestos. Mining talc often brings asbestos minerals up too. Perhaps unsurprisingly, talc and asbestos eventually find their way into products together. A 1976 National Institutes of Health study of 20 talcum-based body powders manufactured before 1973 found fully half showed measurable amounts of tremolite and anthrophyllite—minerals that are found in asbestos. It’s not just the asbestos in baby powder, either. A year-long Food and Drug Administration study, released in March 2020, showed asbestos-tainted talc in nearly 20 percent of the cosmetics products it tested. Including bronzer, blush and compact pressed powder.

What are the specific dangers of talc and asbestos?

Major manufacturers of talc products, like Johnson & Johnson, do not deny that some consumers who have used talc, have also developed cancer. The controversyover talc is more about whether talc caused cancer in those individuals.

**Correlation versus causation is a complicated issue. The question of whether talc has harmed you—and how—is best addressed to an experienced attorney.** What this page can do, and will do, is equip you with important information. For example:

The Legal Landscape: How Talc Went From Cribs to Courts

As early as 1913, Johnson & Johnson advertised their talc-based baby powder as “Best for Baby, Best for You,” in an effort to broaden the market for the product to include adults.

A 1980s-era commercial jingle touted Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based product Shower to Shower with the memorable line, “A sprinkle a day helps keep odor away.” By 1985, an estimated 70 percent of U.S. households used baby powder daily. As talc use became more widespread, however, concerns emerged as to its possible dangers—for both babies and adults alike.

MAJOR DATES IN THE TALC STORY

  • 1969, 1981: Articles in the American Academy of Pediatrics’ official journal each sound an alarm over using talcum baby powder on children, because the talc could cause problems with breathing and lung function if breathed in.The 1981 article was entitled “Hazard!”
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics has warned specifically about a lung disease, calledpneumoconiosis, which has been linked to aspirated baby powder.
  • 1938: The federal Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act established FDA regulation over cosmetics sold in the United States, but did not (and still does not) require FDA approval of cosmetic products before they reach the market.
  • 1980: Johnson & Johnson markets a baby powder made of corn starch rather than talc.
  • 1982: Obstetrician Daniel W. Cramer published an influential study in the journal Cancer that indicated women using talcum powder on their genitalia were three times more likely to develop cancer than those who did not use talcum powder on those areas.
  • In his article, concerning a study of 215 women from 1978 to 1981, Cramer did not call for the use of talcum powder to be discontinued, but did recommend studying the issue further.While several subsequent studies since 1982 have suggested a relationship between baby powder and ovarian cancer,other studies have not.
  • 2009: Deane Berg, then 52, of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, sued Johnson & Johnson and others for the ovarian cancer diagnosis she received three years prior. Berg’s is believed to be the first lawsuit filed against a talcum powder manufacturer. Berg stated in her lawsuit that she had used Johnson & Johnson talc products regularly for about 32 years, “like brushing my teeth.”
  • The Berg jury found Johnson & Johnson liable, but awarded Berg zero damages. Berg said later she turned down a $1.3 million settlement offer because she did not want to sign a confidentiality agreement.
  • 2019: Johnson & Johnson agrees to recall 33,000 bottles of its baby powder after FDA testing found traces of asbestos.
  • 2020: As of April, Johnson & Johnson has had verdicts returned against it exceeding $5 billion.

MAJOR VERDICTS IN TALCUM POWDER LITIGATION

Following Berg’s groundbreaking lawsuit, juries began awarding larger and larger sums against talcum powder manufacturers. Some of those verdicts are listed below.

The following list of verdicts is not comprehensive and is provided for informational purposes only. Past verdicts are no guarantee of what subsequent cases will deliver, and the following verdicts are not an average, nor should they be used to calculate an average.

  • In 2016, Jacqueline Fox’s family is awarded $72 million in damages. Fox died before trial. The verdict was later overturned on appeal.
  • A total of 22 plaintiffs were awarded $4.69 billion in damages in a St. Louis County, Missouri court, in a case that began in 2013. In 2018, Johnson & Johnson lost its initial motion to overturn the verdict but said it would continue to appeal.
  • In 2016, Deborah Giannecchini is awarded $70 million in damages, but the verdict is overturned in 2019 and Johnson & Johnson receives a new trial.
  • Eva Echeverria’s $417 million damage award in 2017 is vacated soon thereafter and Johnson & Johnson is awarded a new trial. Echeverria died a month after the initial verdict.
  • A February 2020 verdict in New Jersey awarding $750 million total to four plaintiffs was reduced by state law to $186.5 million

Other recent jury verdicts, and their respective states, include:

  • California, $29.5 million, March 2019
  • New York, $325 million, May 2019
  • California, $40.3 million, Sept. 2019
  • Florida, $9 million, Feb. 2020

It is estimated that as many as 16,000 talcum powder lawsuits are pending in U.S. courts, cases that could return verdicts totaling billions of dollars.

Causes of Action in Talcum Powder Litigation: A Legal Perspective

Although each case is different, talcum powder cases often center on the same set of legal theories. Because they are a type of personal injury litigation, talcum powder cases generally center on a specific set of claims:

  • Strict liability
  • Failure to warn
  • Negligence
  • Breach of warranty

These are only a few examples of the legal theories involved in a personal injury suit.Here’s how they might work:

  • Strict liability means that the defendant is liable for your injuries even when the defendant was not negligent. Because this theory puts a major burden on the defendant to be careful, strict liability is usually applied to activities or products that are inherently, abnormally dangerous
  • Failure to warn. Generally speaking, product liability cases can center on three types of defects in the product: a design defect (the way it’s drawn up), a manufacturing defect (the way it’s actually made), or a failure to warn.This theory is a major part of most talcum powder lawsuits because plaintiffs claim the manufacturer failed to warn consumers of the dangerous aspects of the talcum powder.
  • Negligence. As discussed on this site’s main page, “Mass Tort & Dangerous Drugs,” negligence has four elements, all of which must be proven for negligence to be proven.

The elements are:

  • Breach of warranty. Two of the warranties, or guarantees, that manufacturers make about their products are actually implied. The warranties aren’t stated anywhere, but we can assume the warranties exist in the products we purchase. One or both of these warranties likely applies in any talcum-powder case:

Talcum Powder: The Company It Keeps?

The issue with talcum powder is not talcum powder, exactly. The substance itself, by itself, is not the dangerous element. Rather, it is the substances that talcum powder can bring with it that are the concern. Primarily, the concern with talcum powder is asbestos. Asbestos is clearly linked in medical literature to two cancers, ovarian cancer and mesothelioma, which not coincidentally are at the heart of most (if not all) talcum powder lawsuits.

OVARIAN CANCER

The National Institutes of Health published a meta-study in 2011 that explicitly linked asbestos and ovarian cancer, finding that “[o]ur study supports the IARC conclusion that exposure to asbestos is associated with increased risk of ovarian cancer.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have concurred about the link between asbestos exposure and ovarian cancer.

. As of 2008, ovarian cancer was the second-leading cause of gynecologic cancer death worldwide.

Mechanism of action: It is thought that asbestos particles within the talc are inhaled through the lungs and work their way down to the abdomen; asbestos particles can enter the vaginal area through application of talc containing asbestos.

MESOTHELIOMA

This cancer centered primarily in the fine tissues of the lungs and chest is nearly always caused by asbestos exposure. Put another way, mesothelioma almost never occurs in the absence of asbestos exposure. A 2020 study published by the National Institutes of Health was titled “Mesothelioma Associated With the Use of Cosmetic Talc,” and examined 33 cases of individuals having no known asbestos exposure other than their use of talcum powder. The study’s authors concluded that “[e]xposure to asbestos-contaminated talcum powders can cause mesothelioma. Clinicians should elicit a history of talcum powder usage in all patients presenting with mesothelioma.”

Have you developed cancer, or been harmed in other ways by your use of talcum powder? The time to act is NOW. Call the Clauson Law Firm today, toll-free, at 833-680-0177 or reach us by e-mail at info@clausonlaw.com. We’re standing by to hear from you.

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