On July 26, jurors in California heard opening statements in the much-anticipated first California talc trial against Johnson and Johnson over allegations that its talc-containing products, such as Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower, cause ovarian cancer.
Allen Smith of The Smith Law Firm, who represented plaintiffs in all six of the Missouri talc trials, said that Johnson and Johnson, aware for decades of the research linking genital talc use to ovarian cancer, failed to warn the public.
“It’s the safe and gentle corporate image of a mother and baby that the defendants are placing over human life, in this case,” he said.
In response, the defense attorney claimed there are no studies actually showing that J&J’s products cause cancer, noting the difference between causation and correlation.
However, on day two of the trial, plaintiff Eva Echeverria, who developed cancer in 2007 after decades of daily using talcum products sold by Johnson and Johnson, called toxicologist and pharmacologist Laura Plunkett to the stand. Plunkett testified that talc is toxic and causes cancer based on her training and experience, and review of the scientific literature. Law360 reported that when cross examined Plunkett did not back down on her assessment that the publicly available scientific data reveals enough evidence to conclude that talc causes cancer.
She had previously explained the mechanism by which talc used on the genitals in small quantities can migrate into the ovaries to toxic effect. “Doses on a daily basis, if they sit in the tissue over time, the more and more body burden that builds up in those tissues can lead to continual toxicity within the tissues, and that’s this chronic inflammation,” Plunkett said, according to Law360. Daily use over decades such as Echeverria alleges are exactly the conditions where women would be at most risk, she testifed.
In his opening arguments, “Smith said that peer-reviewed scientific studies had shown that 10 percent of ovarian cancer diagnoses and deaths in America were related to the use of talcum powder on the genital area,” Law360 reported.