The next baby powder litigation trial is set to begin on September 26, 2016. This will be the fourth case to go to trial so far, and its resolution will drastically affect thousands of other lawsuits currently pending against baby powder manufacturer Johnson & Johnson (J&J).
The plaintiff is a California woman named Deborah Giannecchini. Ms. Giannecchini used J&J’s baby powder from 1967 until 2012 around her groin for feminine hygiene. In November 2012, Ms. Giannecchini was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, which she claims was a direct result of long-term baby powder use. The lawsuit slams J&J for its “wrongful and negligent conduct in the research, development, testing, manufacture, production, promotion, distribution, marketing, and sale of talcum powder.”
Although J&J vehemently denies all wrongdoing and claims its products are safe, the company hired an independent consultant in the 1990s to investigate the link between the talc in its baby powder products and ovarian cancer. The consultant advised the company to stop defending the safety of talc and to remove it from its products.
The company did not take the consultant’s advice, and instead devised marketing strategies to specifically target African American and Mexican American women because these groups had a high prevalence of use. The decision to target African American women is particularly devastating because a study published this past May found African American women have higher rates of ovarian cancer from talcum powder use than other women.
So far, plaintiffs have successfully held J&J responsible for gross negligence, and the company might be sweating bullets over this next trial. All three previous trials have favored the plaintiff and two trials awarded millions in damages. Because baby powder use is so widespread, this could prove to be a costly litigation for the company. The upcoming fourth trial will take place in The Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis in Missouri.