J&J failed to warn consumers about asbestos in talcum powder products, lawsuit alleges

by Eric Pearson

A lawsuit filed against Johnson & Johnson alleges that the company knew its talcum powder products contained asbestos in the 1970s. The company is already facing thousands of lawsuits filed by consumers who allege that Johnson’s Baby Powder and other talc products sold by Johnson & Johnson increase the risk of developing cancer.

Johnson & Johnson has claimed since the 1970s that its talcum powder products were free of asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral that is often found together with talc. Exposure to asbestos is linked to an increased risk of mesothelioma, a deadly form of cancer. The United States has required talcum powder products to be asbestos-free since the 1970s, when the link between asbestos and mesothelioma cancer became known.

But according to the recent lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson, the talc used in the company’s talcum powder products “is not now, nor has it ever been, free from asbestos.” The lawsuit – filed on behalf of more than 50 women in St. Louis, Missouri – alleges that Johnson & Johnson has falsely claimed for nearly 50 years that its talcum powder and baby powder products were free of asbestos.

Documents Allege J&J Talc Product Contained Asbestos

According to documents unsealed as part of the lawsuit, an undated Johnson & Johnson memo instructed employees to tell anyone who asked about asbestos to say that the cancer-causing substance “has never been found and it never will” in the company’s talc products. Based on these instructions, Johnson & Johnson employees repeatedly stated at medical conferences that the company’s talcum powder brands were asbestos-free.

But other documents unsealed as part of the lawsuit have cast suspicion on these claims. In 1973, a Johnson & Johnson official wrote that talc used in the company’s talcum powder brands “contains talc fragments classifiable as fiber. Occasionally sub-trace quantities of [asbestos] are identifiable and these might be classified as asbestos fiber.” In 1974, an official at a Johnson & Johnson talc mine in Vermont wrote a memo advising the company to “to provide protection against what are currently considered to be materials presenting a severe health hazard and are potentially present in all talc ores in use at this time.”

During that same year, Johnson & Johnson officials halted publication of a booklet published by an Italian mine used by the company. The booklet stated that asbestos fibers had been found at the mine. Johnson & Johnson scientists persuaded the owner of the mine to stop publishing the booklet until it could be rewritten by the company.

Health officials warned Johnson & Johnson in the 1970s that even trace amounts of asbestos in the company’s talcum powder could cause serious health problems. However, the company continued to publicly insist that Johnson’s Baby Powder, Shower to Shower, and other talc products were 100% asbestos-free.

Attorneys representing the 50+ women who filed the lawsuit also presented studies that found asbestos in Johnson & Johnson’s talc products after it had been banned by the federal government. The lawyers said that Johnson & Johnson should have warned consumers about the possible presence of asbestos in its talcum baby powder brands.

Talcum Powder Lawsuits Filed by HO&P

If you or a loved one used talcum baby powder products and have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, you may qualify to file a lawsuit. The first step in taking legal action is to speak with an attorney who can advise you regarding your legal rights and guide you through the first steps in filing a case.

Heygood, Orr & Pearson is currently represent more than 150 women who were diagnosed with ovarian cancer after using talcum powder. Our lawyers have filed claims on behalf of our clients against some of the largest corporations in the world. These cases have including claims involving dangerous drugs, defective medical devices, and other hazardous consumer products. At Heygood, Orr & Pearson, we believe that when consumers are injured by the negligence of a corporation or other parties, they deserve to have their legal interests will be fully represented in a court of law.

Heygood, Orr & Pearson has the financial resources to handle cases involving personal injury or product liability from start to finish. In many instances, our firm has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in a case in order to take it to trial on behalf of our clients. At Heygood, Orr & Pearson, we are committed to achieving justice for our clients, whatever the cost.

For more information about filing a talcum powder lawsuit and to find out if you qualify to file a case, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001. You can also reach us by following the link to our free case evaluation form and answering a few brief questions to get started.

by Eric Pearson

Eric Pearson is a licensed attorney and a partner at HO&P who handles commercial and personal injury lawsuits. Eric has been selected to the Super Lawyers List, a Thomson Reuters publication.