A second trial out of more than 1,000 lawsuits alleging Johnson & Johnson products containing talcum powder caused cancer began this week in Missouri. The Plaintiff, Gloria Ristesund, age 62, developed ovarian cancer in 2011 after having used Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder in her genital area for several decades. Ms. Ristesund alleged that her cancer was caused by the talcum powder that is in the Baby Powder product. She also alleged that J&J continued to sell its Baby Powder product despite being aware of the link between talc and ovarian cancer.
In his opening remarks, Ms. Ristesund’s attorney told the jury that J&J was aware of studies connecting talcum powder use and ovarian cancer, but the corporate giant continued to sell Baby Powder containing talc, unlike other manufacturers who switched to corn starch-based powder. The Plaintiff’s attorney also argued that J&J employed a strategy designed to prevent Government regulation of talc and at the same time, disregarded the Government’s requests that J&J either remove talc from its Baby Powder product or issue warnings to its customers. J&J’s attorneys contended that the studies linking talcum powder use and ovarian cancer are not conclusive and that the medical and scientific community still does not know what causes ovarian cancer.
This is the second case pending in State Court to go to trial over the alleged link between ovarian cancer and use of Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder. In February of 2016, jurors returned a $72 million verdict for the family of a Missouri woman who had used J&J’s Baby Powder for more than 35 years and died from ovarian cancer. Roughly 1,000 similar cases are pending, and a growing number of lawsuits are being filed regularly throughout the U.S.