A recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling could affect Johnson & Johnson (J&J) talcum powder ovarian cancer claims. In June 2017, several sources suggested that J&J may take advantage of the Supreme Court ruling that limits where injury lawsuits can be filed. Claims that J&J’s talcum powder products, including the popular Johnson’s Baby Powder, could cause ovarian cancer have been brought by almost 6,000 women and families around the country.
Lawsuits like this one have wide applicability and the potential to affect thousands of people. Read on to learn more about the lawsuit, the alleged risk of using talcum powder, and how to protect your legal rights.
Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Cancer Claims
Claims that J&J talcum powder products increase cancer are based on research that talc-based powder is potentially carcinogenic to humans. Talcum powder in general has been a target of debate for decades, whether used for babies, or for genital purposes among adults. Unfortunately, scientific evidence is limited in terms of a connection between talcum powder and cancer risk, with some studies suggesting a link and others not.
In babies, talcum powder is considered harmful if ingested, as the fine particles can damage the lungs. In adults, plaintiffs claim that using talcum powder products for feminine hygiene increases the risk of developing ovarian cancer. Until the 1970’s, many talcum powder products contained other potentially harmful materials, including asbestos.
Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Cancer Lawsuit
New Jersey-based J&J has been the target of numerous lawsuits alleging that its talc-based products could cause ovarian cancer. Further, it is alleged that J&J failed to warn consumers of the potential risk. J&J has strictly denied any link between talc products and cancer, but the lawsuits have continued to pour in, topping over 5,900 women and their families.
A fifth of J&J talc related cases are pending in courts in St. Louis. So far, four cases hitting J&J and a talcum powder supplier have resulted in verdicts of $307 million. Those, and most of the other cases, involve plaintiffs that are out-of-state and are suing an out-of-state company.
The Supreme Court ruling in June restricted state courts from hearing cases against out-of-state companies when the injuries alleged did not happen there. J&J is attempting to seize this opportunity, and with urging, a St. Louis judge has already declared a mistrial in one case because two of the plaintiffs were from out-of-state. The ruling, if applied to the J&J lawsuits, could also affect numerous cases that haven’t gone to trial yet, as well as pending verdicts.
J&J was quoted saying that the Supreme Court ruling “requires reversal of the talc cases that are currently under appeal in St. Louis”. Of course, there is a heated debate about where plaintiffs will turn to in pursuit of justice. Attorneys for the plaintiffs argue that St. Louis courts still have jurisdiction because J&J does have a connection to the state via a bottling company based in the state that packages J&J talc products.
Does Supreme Court Ruling Close the Door for Plaintiffs?
Aside from judges like the one in St. Louis declaring mistrials, there is some question as to whether the Supreme Court ruling closes the door to plaintiffs looking for justice. Large-scale litigation against companies like J&J often involves many in- and out-of-state plaintiffs. These cases also generally span the course of several years, which makes it unfortunate for cases to be dropped or verdicts altered due to a rule changing while a case is ongoing.
Legal experts say that J&J could use the Supreme Court ruling to dismiss many of the cases it is facing in Missouri. Missouri has been called a “Judicial Hellhole”, and has been claimed to be overly plaintiff-friendly by J&J who has tried to move the cases to another court unsuccessfully.
While currently the J&J debacle is primarily related to cases in St. Louis courts, legal experts allude to the wide-arching potential for companies to try to use the recent ruling in order to get cases dismissed. There is reasonable concern that the ruling could give companies an edge over plaintiffs since so many large-scale lawsuits are heard in out-of-state courts.
There are currently a number of large-scale lawsuits pending over drugs like Paxil and Zoloft, as well as medical devices like Essure, which were (and continue to be) distributed to patients all across the U.S. The future of these cases, and justice for the plaintiffs, may now be unclear.
Protecting Your Legal Rights
Ovarian cancer occurs at a rate lower than any reproductive cancer, but is responsible for more deaths than any other type of cancer. For the plaintiffs suing J&J, they feel that their long-term exposure to talcum-based products increased their risk of developing the cancer they now suffer from. Many plaintiffs and legal experts argue that J&J should warn consumers of the potential dangers of talcum powder use, while J&J contends there is no link between their products and cancer.
As a consumer, you trust that product manufacturers test their products for safety and warn consumers when necessary about the risks. Any time you have questions or concerns about a product you use, whether you have been harmed or have been warned of potential dangers, it is advisable to contact a medical malpractice attorney to discuss your case.
Contact Brown & Brothers today to find out more about medical malpractice, negligence, or birth injury cases, including those related to dangerous or defective products. Fill out our online form to schedule your free, confidential consultation.