Christina Suttles Jan. 8, 2017, 10:57pm


SANTA ROSA — Despite an outcry of legal watchdogs over the spread of questionable talcum-powder lawsuits, TheLawFirm.com is training a number of new paralegals, gearing up for what could be hundreds of lawsuits alleging a link between Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder and ovarian cancer in longtime users of the product.

Johnson & Johnson has been named a defendant in more than 1,000 recent lawsuits nationwide, according to news.law.fordham.edu, alleging it deceived consumers by refusing to warn of the potentially carcinogenic properties of its Baby Powder and shower products, which millions of women use for personal-hygiene purposes.

This spike in talc lawsuits is just one of many since 2009, when a South Dakota woman first sued the company alleging negligence and fraud after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Johnson & Johnson offered the plaintiff a $1.3 million settlement, but after she refused to sign a confidentiality agreement, no monetary damages were awarded, according to a March 2, 2016 article in the New York Post. Last February, a St. Louis jury did award $72 million in damages to the family of a woman who died from ovarian cancer following three decades of Johnson & Johnson talc-based powder use, according to www.stltoday.com.

California tort-reform advocates consider this attempt at a class-action lawsuit acquisitive and unnecessary.

“There’s always a better way than the lawsuit route,” Julie Griffiths, northern and central California’s representative for Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse, told the Northern California Record. “I’d be curious to know if they even bothered to take other method research to see if there really was a link to ovarian cancer.”

Maryann Marino, CALA’s Southern California representative said she believes the lawsuit to be another means of lining lawyers’ pockets, using online, radio and television advertisement to amass plaintiffs.

“It’s not surprising to see another personal injury firm jump on the talc class-action bandwagon and aggressively market these lawsuits to recruit more plaintiffs,” Marino told the Northern California Record. “Personal-injury lawyers and lawsuit lead-generation firms are spending millions of dollars to scare people into lawsuits in hopes of a big payday for lawyers. Unfortunately, consumers are likely only seeing these ads and internet sites, which are intended to stir fear. What they aren’t telling consumers is that the science is far from settled and high-profile talc cases have been dismissed for failing to provide enough evidence.”

Research is ongoing in producing a substantial link between the powder and ovarian cancer, but in its natural form, the mineral contains asbestos, a substance known to cause lung cancer when inhaled, although all talcum products used in homes have been asbestos-free since the 1970s, www.stltoday.com reported.

The American Cancer Society suggests a small, but slight increased risk of cancer if the powder particles were to travel to the ovary. The powder is often used in a number of feminine-hygiene products and contraceptives.

“These cases are clogging our court systems around the state and were trying to use the court system for means by which it was meant to be used — for people who have actual grievances that need to be aired,” Griffiths said.

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Organizations in this Story

California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse
4730 J Street
Sacramento, CA 95819

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