Defective Products Justice

Missouri court denies J&J request to delay talc-related cancer trials

The Missouri Court of Appeals has denied a request by Johnson & Johnson to delay upcoming trials of ovarian cancer claims brought by individuals and families who allege that use of the company’s talc-based products directly led to cancer.

Attorneys for the health care giant had asked the appellate court to deny the jurisdiction of the 22nd Circuit Court in St. Louis to hear the cases since most of the 1,350 plaintiffs with pending claims are not Missouri residents.

In a one-page order signed on Jan. 3, Chief Judge Angela T. Quigless denied the motion without further comment.

The next trial brought by more than 60 women and family members against Johnson & Johnson is scheduled to begin in St. Louis on Feb. 6, followed by five additional trials. Last year, St. Louis juries returned three separate verdicts of $70 million, $72 million, and $55 million for cancer victims who sued New Jersey-based J&J.

The lawsuits claim that numerous scientific studies have shown the link between ovarian cancer and the regular use of talc-containing products manufactured and marketed by J&J, including Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower. Attorneys for the plaintiffs allege that the company has known about the dangers of talcum powder for decades but has attempted to suppress and dismiss those studies while refusing to provide warning labels on its talc-containing products.

“Anyone has the constitutional right to bring a case in any jurisdiction,” says Ted Meadows, attorney for the plaintiffs and principal at the Beasley Allen Law Firm in Montgomery, Ala. “We’ve chosen St. Louis to file several talc-related claims because it’s a central location that makes sense for these women, many of whom are very ill and deserve to have their claims heard fairly, quickly, and efficiently.”

Scientific research, including more than 20 well-executed scientific studies, shows that women who have ever used talcum powder for genital hygiene are at a 30-60 percent increased risk of developing ovarian cancer compared to those who have never used it. In the U.S., ovarian cancer affects about 24,000 women a year and is the fifth leading cause of cancer death among women. One medical expert calculates that this use of talcum powder leads to nearly 10 percent of the new ovarian cancer cases reported annually, and it is estimated that 1,400 women die from talc-related ovarian cancer each year.

This modifiable risk factor, if eliminated, could prevent the diagnosis and save the lives of thousands of women each year. Yet Johnson & Johnson has ignored and attempted to discredit these scientific studies and still refuses to provide warning labels on talc-containing products about the link between talc and ovarian cancer.

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