Among the mounting baby powder lawsuits is one recently filed in California on behalf of a woman who developed ovarian cancer from using baby powder. Baby powder manufacturer Johnson & Johnson (J&J) currently faces more than 1,300 lawsuits over its baby powder products with thousands more claims being investigated.
Lilia Duràn was employed as a field worker in California for many years. Because she worked in the heat, Ms. Duràn used J&J’s baby powder daily on her thighs and near her groin to prevent sweating and rashes. At the age of 52, Ms. Duràn was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Despite surgery and other medical treatments, Ms. Duràn succumbed to her ovarian cancer just two years after her initial diagnosis.
Ms. Duràn’s family believes her daily use of baby powder caused her ovarian cancer and claim J&J failed to warn her and other consumers of the cancer risks. To date, more than 20 epidemiological studies have found a link between the talc in baby powder and ovarian cancer, yet J&J never updated its labeling to include this risk.
The first study linking talc and ovarian cancer was published in 1971, but it wasn’t until 2013 that the first baby powder lawsuit went to trial. The plaintiff in the case, Deane Berg, turned down a $1 million settlement offer from J&J because it would have required her to sign a confidentiality agreement. Ms. Berg felt exposing J&J’s negligence was important for millions of other women across the country, so she refused the settlement deal and her case went to trial. The jury found J&J guilty of gross negligence in failing to warn consumers of the risks, and the verdict laid the groundwork for other baby powder trials.
Earlier this year, two more baby powder lawsuits went to trial, one in February and one in May. Both juries awarded plaintiffs millions of dollars in damages. The next baby powder lawsuit is scheduled to begin this month and its outcome will have profound implications for Ms. Duràn’s lawsuit, as well as all other talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits currently pending against J&J.