Defective Products Justice

Talcum powder ovarian cancer trial begins in St. Louis

The sixth talc trial against Johnson & Johnson in the City of St. Louis Circuit Court started this week. Plaintiffs represent the estates of three women who died from ovarian cancer following long-term genital applications of talcum powder.

Shawn Blaes, Angela Dawn Hershman, and Eron Evans each developed ovarian cancer after decades of using talc-based feminine hygiene products, including Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower body powder products.

Plaintiffs include Michael Blaes of Webster Groves, Missouri, whose wife, Shawn Blaes, died of ovarian cancer at age 50. She was a competitive figure skater, coach, and co-owner of a skate shop in Webster Groves. She was initially diagnosed with cancer in 2008.

Angela Hershman died at the age of 46 after using talcum powder for more than 29 years. Ms. Hershman was from Grenta, Virginia, and her daughter, Savanna Crews, is pursuing her claims against Johnson & Johnson and Imerys after her mother’s untimely death on April 5, 2016, after her ovarian cancer diagnosis.

Eron Evans died on Jan. 1, 2016, at the age of 41. Her premature death was the direct and proximate result of her more than 30 years of talcum powder use and subsequent ovarian cancer diagnosis. Darlene Evans is pursuing the claims on her daughter’s behalf.

Johnson and Johnson has been facing very public lawsuits over the last year and a half linking its talcum powder products to ovarian cancer. Thus far, four juries have found the company failed to warn consumers of this cancer risk and held it accountable, with verdicts of $110 million, $72 million, $70 million, and $55 million. Two of those juries also held J&J’s talc provider Imerys Talc America responsible and ordered it to pay damages as well.

Plaintiffs’ lawyers have uncovered a decades-long cover-up by Johnson & Johnson and Imerys of the increased risk of ovarian cancer linked to its products. Juries have been shown a clear trail of internal documents as evidence that J&J has known about those dangers for decades but has attempted to suppress and dismiss the findings.

Experts now estimate that more than 100,000 women have died of ovarian cancer as a result of talc exposure.

Jury selection took place this week and opening statements are set to begin Friday, June 9. The case is Blaes et. al. v. Johnson & Johnson et al., case number 4:14-cv-00213 in Missouri’s 22nd Judicial Circuit Court.

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