The past year has seen a surge of lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson, a multinational personal hygiene, medical equipment and pharmaceutical company. In May, a U.S. court jury ordered J&J to pay a combined $55 million in compensatory and punitive damages to Gloria Ristesund, a consumer who developed ovarian cancer after years of using the company's talc-based products. Ristesund is joined by over a thousand other women with similar cases, and that number is only expected to grow.
The connection between talc and ovarian cancer
J&J's talc-based products, including Baby Powder and Shower to Shower Powder, are often used for feminine hygiene purposes. Talcum powder has structural similarities to asbestos, a carcinogenic mineral, and while J&J describe their products as gentle and mild, an increasing body of evidence suggests otherwise; the powder may in fact be very dangerous, especially when applied regularly to female genital areas.
Product liability for Johnson & Johnson
Product liability cases come in a number of forms: household products, automotive parts and pharmaceuticals are just a few product types which may cause damages to consumers. When a consumer has suffered due to a damaged, defective or harmful product, a liability case allows that consumer to pursue compensation for any damages suffered in relation to that product. Damages can include physical illness, pain and suffering, lost wages and, in extreme cases, loss of life.
According to several sources, J&J had knowledge of talc's harmful effects early in the 1980s, yet the company continued to market their talc-based products without including consumer warnings of any kind. As Ristesund's case demonstrates, companies like J&J can and should be held liable for damages suffered by their consumers. At the moment, J&J is facing over 1,200 lawsuits alleging that the company was aware of the risk of ovarian cancer associated with its talc-based products and nonetheless failed to warn consumers.