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Search for baby powder on Amazon these days, any baby powder, and you will find that all manufacturers now prominently display the “Talc Free” assurance.   

In 1893, Johnson & Johnson (J&J) first sold its Baby Powder to the public to prevent baby diaper rash. The original powder formula ended in 2020 when the company stopped U.S. sales due to the suspicion that talc tainted the powder. The company halted global sales in 2023.
Today J&J Baby Powder and the other brands, Gold Bond, for example, have substituted cornstarch for talc.

What’s Wrong with Talc?
Talcum powder is intended to be used externally to keep the body hygienic and dry.

Mined from the earth and ground into a powder used on the body, some advertised names were Gold Bond Medicated Body Powder, Summer’s Eve Body Powder, Nivea, Shower-to-Shower, Johnson’s Baby Powder, and Cashmere Bouquet. Talc has even been used in cosmetics and condoms.

Advertising targeted women suggesting that a sprinkle in the genital area would keep them fresh. “Just a sprinkle a day keeps odor away” was a 1980s ad for Shower-to-Shower. 

Specifically, J&J targeted African American women by advertising powder and distributing samples through churches and beauty salons.

Today, plaintiffs from all 50 states allege baby powder makers knew asbestos was often being mined alongside talc and had made its way into personal hygiene products, yet they failed to warn consumers.

Over 22,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and more than 3,000 new mesothelioma cases are diagnosed in the U.S. annually.
Exposure to talcum powder can also come from makeup, building materials, plastics, paints, and paper products. Talc is used to purify wastewater. Talc mines pose the most risk of mesothelioma to workers.
The Evidence is Mounting

  • In 2018, Reuters reported that between 1971 and 2003, citing internal J&J company documents disclosed during litigation, the company knew J&J’s Baby Powder contained traces of asbestos.  
  • The same year asbestos was found in Claire’s makeup products marketed to teens, according to CBS News.
  • In 2019, J&J recalled 33,000 bottles of J&J Baby Powder after asbestos was found in a sample tested by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The following year J&J announced it would stop selling talc-based baby powder in the U.S. and Canada.
  • In 2020, a Daubert ruling allowed plaintiff experts to testify at trial. Defendant Johnson & Johnson had argued that the link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer was junk science, but the MDL judge said the jury should decide that issue.
  • In 2021, Bloomberg reported that scientists hand-picked by J&J wrote a 2009 report on the potential of talc-causing cancer. That didn’t stop the FDA from using it to decide not to warn the public about the risks of talc products.

JOHNSON & Johnson was the largest maker of talcum powder products, and today it represents the largest Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) currently pending. MDL No. 2738, Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Products Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation has more than 38,000 pending lawsuits, with more added daily.

The defendants are Johnson & Johnson and Imerys Talc.  

Other Defendants

Imerys Talc is the mining company that supplied the raw talc. Other defendants include Colgate-Palmolive, which made a talcum powder, Mennen, and is tied to mesothelioma litigation.

Gold Bond is a subsidiary of the French pharmaceutical company Sanofi. Besides menthol and zinc oxide, Gold Bond Baby Powder is now made with cornstarch.

Chattem, the previous owner of Gold Bond products, faces many lawsuits filed by women who have developed ovarian cancer.

Unlike the J&J cases where company documents confirm J&J knew asbestos could be contained in its baby powder, Gold Bond may not have the exact roadmap in those revealing internal documents.  

Then there is the question of whether asbestos causes cancer. The International Agency for Research on Cancer does not believe that powders that contain talcum are inherently dangerous, while the European Union has banned talc in health and beauty products.

Courts handling ovarian cancer/talc cases include the federal court in New Jersey; the state court in Atlantic County, New Jersey; Los Angeles Superior Court; and St. Louis Circuit Court in Missouri.f

Defendants are J&J Baby Powder; Shower-to-Shower; Gold Bond No Mess Powder Spray, Body Powder, Extra Strength Body Powder; Old Spice Powder; Colgate Palmolive; Proctor & Gamble Co.; Imery’s Talc North America (talc supplier); Whittaker, Clark & Daniels (distributor); and Vanderbilt Minerals (industrial talc).

Texas Two-Step

Unable to overturn a $4.7 billion jury award to 22 women who developed ovarian cancer and hundreds of more cases pending, Johnson & Johnson came up with a plan, a scheme really, to avoid billions in losses.

J&J created a subsidiary company, LTL Management LLC, and moved it to North Carolina. The company also moved its 38,000 asbestos talc cases there. With a value of $10 billion and liabilities equaling that amount, LTL filed for bankruptcy protection in October 2021, putting the brakes on talc litigation while a judge ruled on the legitimacy of the bankruptcy.

In January 2023, a Third Circuit judge rejected J&’J’s attempt to shortchange plaintiffs with its Texas two-step bankruptcy filing. The court dismissed the Chapter 11 bankruptcy causing J&J’s stock to drop significantly – 3% in a single day. J&J plans to appeal the ruling.

Meanwhile, MDL 2738 is growing significantly. So far, there have been no bellwether trials to gauge the relative value of these cases. Still, those that have gone to the jury have resulted in multi-million-dollar verdicts and, in some cases, millions and billions in punitive awards intended to deter the company from future action and to tell the healthcare giant just how disgusted they were with the company’s behavior.

Obtain a Presettlement Loan for Your J and J Talcum Powder Lawsuit

If you’re involved in a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson or other manufacturers due to talcum powder-related injuries, obtaining a pre-settlement loan can allow you to get the funds you need without having to wait for your claim to be settled. Here are some of the benefits of lawsuit funding:

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If you are involved in a talcum powder lawsuit and you need financial assistance, contact Direct Legal Funding today to find out how much you qualify for. Call our office at 866-941-5588 or apply online to get started.