Among the more than 1,000 lawsuits facing healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) over its baby powder is one recently filed by a Pennsylvania woman. Dolorae Handy filed a lawsuit against the company in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Ms. Handy was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2005 and believes the diagnosis is the direct result of her prolonged use of J&J’s baby powder around her groin. Ms. Handy has undergone extensive medical treatment to fight her ovarian cancer and has not only suffered physically and emotionally, but she has also suffered severe economic loss.
Despite research linking the talc in baby powder to ovarian cancer dating as far back as 1971, J&J never warned consumers of the risk. In the 1990s, the company even hired an independent consultant to evaluate the risks. Although the consultant advised the company to discontinue the use of talc in its products, J&J ignored the advice and continued to use talc without warnings on its product packaging.
Furthermore, internal documents brought to light in previous baby powder trials showed the company devised marketing strategies to combat the growing concern of ovarian cancer. The company has been absolutely reluctant to remove talc from its baby powder products.
What might be most devastating for consumers is that safer alternatives to talc do exist. Cornstarch-based baby powder has been available since the 1970s, but J&J produces a much smaller amount of the product and instead heavily advertises its talc-based formula. Had J&J just put its production and marketing energies into its cornstarch-based products, the company could have saved lives and prevented injuries.
While J&J’s negligence has been devastating for many women and their families, several women have been successful in holding the company responsible. Three talc lawsuits have gone to trial so far, and all three found J&J was grossly negligent, with two awarding multi-million dollar verdicts. The next trial is scheduled to begin in September.