As Americans begin to learn more about the dangers of talc, more of them are using the court system to hold accountable companies whose products contain the mineral.
A new case has been brought against Johnson & Johnson in Los Angeles County. The plaintiff is a man whose wife died of ovarian cancer. The woman used Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder and Shower to Shower powder, both feminine hygiene products.
This new filing comes on the heels of a recent jury finding in St. Louis that the family of a woman who died from ovarian cancer after using talc-containing feminine hygiene products was entitled to $72 million in damages.
According to court documents, Soren Threadgill contends that his wife, Eva Maria, used the talc-containing products for 25 years. Doctors diagnosed her with ovarian cancer in 1998, and she died four years later.
His suit contends that Johnson & Johnson; Imerys Talc America, Johnson & Johnson’s main talc supplier; and the stores where the products were purchased, Rite Aid Corp. and Gelson’s, a supermarket chain, are liable for her wrongful death. The suit also alleges fraud, negligence, breach of implied warranty and product liability.
As in more than 1,000 cases across the country, Eva Maria Threadgill used the talc-containing products on a daily basis. Research has shown that talc particles from the powders make their way through the female genital area, ultimately settling in the ovaries, where they lead to a significant cancer risk.
Johnson & Johnson marketing efforts over the past several decades show that the company intended for its products to be used regularly — “Just a sprinkle a day keeps the odor away,” one ad slogan reads, according to Threadgill’s complaint. Another slogan encourages women to use the products “ anytime you want the skin to feel soft, fresh and comfortable.”
However, leading cancer researchers have linked talc to cancer for many years. In 1994, the Cancer Prevention Coalition warned Johnson & Johnson that females who use talc-containing products in their genital area are at “a serious risk of ovarian cancer,” Threadgill’s suit notes. Also in the suit is the fact that the International Association for the Research of Cancer labeled as a human carcinogen hygiene powders that contain talc.
To date, Johnson & Johnson has refused to include a warning label of the cancer risk on any of its products that include talc. The company has earned special scorn for its marketing efforts toward African-American females, who use body powders at a higher rate than the female population in general.