The first trial of more than 300 that have been filed in California connecting talcum power and ovarian cancer began on July 10 in Los Angeles.
The case, like the others filed in the state and some 2,400 around the nation, claims that Johnson & Johnson and the company’s talc supplier, Imerys Talc America, had knowledge of talc’s alleged carcinogenic properties for decades but failed to warn consumers, who developed ovarian cancer as a result of exposure to J&J Baby Powder and Shower to Shower.
This first California trial may receive additional scrutiny after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling limiting the ability of nonresidents to file claims in state courts where they didn’t suffer an injury. The ruling led to a mistrial in Missouri, which had been the hub for talc cases because of the relative ease with which out-of-state plaintiffs could join existing lawsuits. The first California case is not affected by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling since the plaintiff is a California resident who alleges that she developed ovarian cancer while living in the state.
Prior to the mistrial in Missouri, four of the five previous talc trials held in St. Louis yielded plaintiff verdicts totaling more than $300 million, including punitive damages. In 2013, J&J prevailed in one trial, although the court found negligence on the part of the company but awarded no damages.
Does Talc Really Cause Cancer?
There is no decisive answer to whether or not talcum powder causes ovarian cancer, but numerous studies conducted over the past 30 years have found a 20 to 40 percent increased risk of ovarian cancer among talc users. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is part of the World Health Organization, has said that the genital use of talcum-based powder is “possibly carcinogenic to humans,” but the American Cancer Society says more research is needed to establish a definitive link.