The first talc mesothelioma case against Johnson and Johnson and Imerys is being tried again in Pasadena, California. A retrial began nine days after a mistrial was declared when plaintiff Tina Herford mentioned talc’s alleged link to ovarian cancer in her testimony on day two.
Since 2016 there have been six completed trials against Johnson and Johnson and Imerys centering on allegations that talc itself is carcinogenic and responsible for contributing the the development of women’s ovarian cancer. Five of the six juries in those cases found in favor of the plaintiffs with huge multi-million dollar verdicts that got international attention and caused many consumers to question the integrity of the beloved health care company.
Plaintiffs’ attorneys accused Johnson and Johnson of decades of knowledge of the cancer risk, which they say the company intentionally concealed in order to protect corporate image and pursue profit.
“I feel very honored to serve on behalf of the thousands of women who are suffering and many dying of ovarian cancer as a result of their long-term use of talcum powder,” Beasley Allen attorney Leigh O’Dell, co-lead counsel in the New Jersey federal multidistrict litigation (MDL), said in a statement. “Despite numerous credible scientific studies showing an increased risk of ovarian cancer, Johnson & Johnson has never warned users of their Baby Powder or other talcum-powder based products.
“Internal documents make clear that J&J and its principal supplier of talc have been aware of the risks of ovarian cancer for many years. Rather than act responsibly and warn consumers, Johnson & Johnson suppressed safety information and actively misled women about the dangers of genital talc use. The company’s conduct is reprehensible, and we look forward to continuing to pursue justice on behalf of these deserving women and their families.”
The current trial accuses Johnson and Johnson of concealing a different risk from its talc consumers. Plaintiffs Tina Herford and Douglas Herford’s attorney alleges that for decades Johnson and Johnson knew that its talc products contained asbestos. The company is accused of concealing positive test results for asbestos from both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and from consumers.
“This is a case about trust, the evidence will show that Johnson & Johnson is a company that for well over 100 years has been selling products that people trust … Johnson & Johnson has used that trust to embolden their product’s sales,” plaintiff’s attorney Chris Panatier of Simon Greenstone Panatier Bartlett PC said. “They betrayed that trust, and there’s a lot Johnson & Johnson knows that the public doesn’t know, and there’s a lot that Johnson & Johnson knows that the FDA doesn’t.”
According to Law360, Panatier told the jury that the company did not stop selling the contaminated talc or put a warning label on it in the late sixties and early seventies, when asbestos’ dangers became public, nor did it “reject a single batch of talc.” Instead, through the trade association then called the Cosmetic Toiletry and Fragrance Association it pressured the FDA to allow the industry to self-regulate. Panatier alleges that the less precise testing promoted by Johnson and Johnson would not pick up the presence of most asbestos in talc.
This case alleges that Tina Herford’s mesothelioma was caused by decades of inhaling Johnson and Johnson’s asbestos-contaminated talc products during diaper changes and when she used the products for feminine hygiene. Mesothelioma is a rare, usually fatal, cancer in the tissue lining the internal organs, most commonly the lungs and abdomen. After exposure to asbestos, it can be decades before the cancer develops. Johnson and Johnson claims that Ms. Tina Herford’s mesothelioma was caused by the radiation therapy she underwent as breast cancer treatment.