On May 4, Jere Beasley asked Johnson and Johnson to put an end to the ongoing talcum powder litigation and to remove its talcum powder products from store shelves, or at least warn women about the danger of ovarian cancer linked to talc use for feminine hygiene. But the company has not responded to his letter except to publicly stand behind its products and to say that it plans to appeal the two previous decisions.
In an interview with the Montgomery Advertiser, Beasley, who is Principal & Founder of the Montgomery-based law firm that was co-counsel for the plaintiffs in the two talcum powder cases that were tried in St. Louis earlier this year, said of Johnson and Johnson, “They know us well enough to know we’re not bluffing. If they don’t want to do this (settle), we’re dedicated to going that route and trying case after case after case.”
After the verdicts of $72 million in February and $55 million in May, about 17,000 women reached out to the firm about filing suit. The 11,000 to which Beasley referred is the number of eligible cases that are being reviewed from that initial flood of women who had suffered ovarian cancer blamed on genital use of talcum powder, and were seeking recompense.
The next case is, in fact, going to trial this week. Plaintiff Deborah Giannecchini’s case is the third of a 64-person joint lawsuit. These suits all share the same allegations that Johnson and Johnson’s talcum powder products, Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower body powder, when used for feminine hygiene increase ovarian cancer risk and that the company failed to warn consumers of the risk.
“The regulations that apply to cosmetic companies require a warning if the product may possibly be associated with a hazard. Whether you think there’s a causal connection or not, there is certainly enough evidence to show a possible risk of ovarian cancer, and they’re just not warning about it,” co-lead counsel Ted Meadows of Beasley Allen told the Montgomery Advertiser.
Johnson and Johnson had itself been warned quite boldly decades ago of talc’s link to ovarian cancer and the impact that ignoring this evidence could have on its business, if the impact it would have on consumer health wasn’t enough to motivate the company to action.
The juries of the two earlier trials were presented with what the Montgomery Advertiser refers to as “damning evidence,” specifically internal memos from Johnson and Johnson that had never been seen before, by the FDA or scientists or the media, according to Jere Beasley. One memo in particular, from one of Johnson and Johnson’s paid medical consultants to the company’s preclinical toxicology manager, clearly advised the company against denying talc’s risk.
“At that time there had been about nine studies (more by now) published in the open literature that did show a statistically significant association between hygienic talc use and ovarian cancer. Anybody who denies this risks that the talc industry will be perceived by the public like it perceives the cigarette industry: denying the obvious in the face of all evidence to the contrary,” the 1997 memo reads.
Jere Beasley said of the internal documents presented at trial, “This jury saw them, read them and (the documents) really indicted Johnson & Johnson of extremely callous, reckless, intentional conduct that had to hurt people.”
Source: The Montgomery Advertiser