As there are more and more women winning talcum powder lawsuits against Johnson and Johnson, there is a growing concern that talcum powder ovarian cancer is a high risk for women who regularly use baby powder on the genital area over many years.
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In 2013, with the promise of spring just around the corner, Jacqueline Fox noticed her poodle, Dexter, was acting strangely. The dog would jump on Fox, cry if she left him, for even a moment, and stayed close to her side whenever possible. Fox thought there was perhaps something wrong with Dexter, but before she could take the dog to a vet, she saw a show about dogs who could sense their personwas unwell. At 59 years old, Jacqueline generally felt pretty good, despite having high blood pressure, diabetes and a touch of arthritis. With Dexter continuing to act strangely, however, Fox decided to have a checkup, “just in case.”
Little more than a week after Fox’s dog began acting odd, she received a dismaying diagnosis of ovarian cancer. Fox went through surgical procedures to remove her fallopian tubes, ovaries, uterus, and even part of her colon and spleen. Fox then endured the rigors of chemotherapy. At home one day, Fox saw a television ad which suggested using J & J baby powder with talc over a long period of time could potentially raise a woman’s risk of ovarian cancer. In her depositions, Fox noted she had been shaking J & J baby powder with talc on her underwear practically every day since she was in her teenage years as a method of staying “fresh and clean.” Marvin Salter, Fox’s son, was bewildered, saying “It has to be safe. It’s put on babies. It’s been around forever.”
Johnson & Johnson Ordered to Pay $72 Million in Wrongful Death Case
Jacqueline Fox died as a result of ovarian cancer in the fall of 2015. Her family believes she would have been happy to know that a few months after her death, a St. Louis jury agreed that Fox’s use of J & J talcum powder was a factor in her ovarian cancer. The jury found that the pharmaceutical giant was responsible for failing to warn consumers of the potential risks associated with using talcum powder for feminine hygiene, as well as conspiracy and negligence.
As the verdict was read, Marvin Salter teared up, saying that his mother thought she was using something which was safe, and that she should have been given a choice in the matter. “J & J didn’t give people a choice,” Salter added. A spokeswoman for J & J noted that “jury verdicts should not be confused with scientific findings,” and that “the overwhelming body of scientific research and clinical evidence supports the safety of cosmetic talc.”
J & J Pays Out More Than $5 Billion Since 2013
Johnson & Johnson—a name trusted by millions of Americans—has spent the past three years paying out more than $5 billion in an effort to settle lawsuits concerning medical devices, drugs, and now baby powder claims. In 2013 alone, the company paid $2.2 billion settling both civil and criminal claims of marketing Risperdal and two other medications illegally. Later, J & J paid approximately $2.8 billion to settle Stryker hip claims, and, more recently, about $120 million to women injured by vaginal mesh inserts. Now, more than 1,200 people are suing J & J for ovarian cancer they believe is tied to the use of J & J baby powder with talc and Shower to Shower with talc.
Baby Powder—A Trusted Brand
According to J & J, the smell of baby powder is recognized more often than the smell of chocolate, as well as other notable smells. As far back as the early 1900’s, J & J was persuading women to use the powder on themselves. In 1970, British researchers analyzed 13 ovarian tumors, finding talc particles deeply embedded in ten of them. This was the first study which raised the idea that talcum powder might not be safe for women to use in the genital region. Johnson & Johnson has continued to maintain the safety of talc, pointing to some studies which were inconclusive regarding whether talc use can lead to ovarian cancer.
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Less than three months after Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $72 million for a case in which a woman died from ovarian cancer after using J & J powders with talc, the pharmaceutical giant has suffered a second setback.
With Johnson & Johnson just losing their second talcum powder trial, the focus on whether talcum powder can potentially lead to ovarian cancer, is increasing daily. In February a jury awarded $72 million in a wrongful death suit against Johnson & Johnson after Jackie Fox died from ovarian cancer. Fox had used J & J baby powder with talc as well as J & J Shower to Shower with talc for feminine hygiene for over thirty-five years.
For those of you who are only just tuning in to the problems with IVC filters, we’ll give you a quick rundown (before we dive into the update). C.R. Bard is a New Jersey-based medical device manufacturer. They are a giant in their industry, and until recent years, were a trusted source of medical devices for healthcare providers across the country. Bard is one of 11 manufacturers who make inferior vena cava (IVC) filters, and while the majority of filters are implanted without issue, those produced by Bard have caused nothing but problems over the years.
Bard’s “recovery” filter was given FDA clearance in 2002, and it didn’t take long for the troublesome reports to begin rolling in. According to NBC:
A confidential study commissioned by Bard showed that the Recovery filter had higher rates of relative risk for death, filter fracture and movement than all of its competitors. An outside doctor hired to conduct the study wrote that "further investigation…is urgently warranted."
In the recent Mississippi appellate case Howell v. Equipment Inc., a man working as a laborer at a jobsite suffered severe injuries when the platform of a scissor lift he was working on fell 12-15 feet. He hit his head, broke his ribs, and injured his shoulder, face, and brain. The lift was a work platform that rose vertically in an "X." There was a bridge on the platform that permitted the person on it to get closer to the work area. The man was on the bridge when it collapsed, landing on him.
The lift distributor bought the scissor lift from the manufacturer and sold the lift to the plaintiff's employer in 1993. The lift manufacturer was scheduled to perform yearly inspections, but these inspections were performed only erratically. On the day before the accident in question, an employee of the lift distributor had performed a service call because there was a steering problem associated with the lift at issue.
The man and his wife sued the manufacturer and lift distributor for negligence. They claimed that the manufacturer had negligently manufactured the lift and that the lift distributor had negligently maintained the lift during routine maintenance checks. The plaintiffs argued that there no weight-capacity decal in connection on the bridge and that the employee should have seen it was missing when he came out for the service call the day before. They also pointed on that certain components were bent and presented another safety issue.
Recently, a Mississippi teenager passed away after suffering injuries in an SUV rollover accident in a church parking lot at night. The teen was a passenger in the SUV. The driver was backing up and overcorrected. The SUV rolled over, pinning the teen beneath. If your child or spouse was killed in a rollover accident, you are likely suffering immense grief. It may be appropriate to bring a wrongful death suit.
In Mississippi, a wrongful death is one that is caused by a wrongful or negligent act or omission, unsafe machinery or appliances, or breach of any warranty of fitness of an item intended for human consumption. In a rollover accident, there may be negligent conduct on the part of a driver, but there may also be a manufacturing defect.
Negligent conduct by a driver that could cause a rollover includes unsafe operation of a vehicle. To prove negligence on the part of a driver, parents of a deceased teenager will need to prove the driver's duty to their child, the driver's breach of that duty, actual and proximate causation, and damages. However, sometimes a manufacturer or product designer's faulty design can cause the rollover. A vehicle's tires can also cause a rollover due to tread separation.
Drug manufacturers sometimes know of serious risks associated with use of their drug, but continue to market the drug without adequate warnings anyway. In Mississippi, plaintiffs who are hurt by a dangerous drug that did not come with a warning or did not come with adequate warnings, can allege failure to warn under Miss. Code Ann. § 11-1-63. These plaintiffs will need to prove: (1) the drug was defective and lacked adequate warnings, (2) the defect rendered the drug unreasonably dangerous, (3) the defect was the proximate cause of their injuries and (4) the drug manufacturer knew or should have known about the unreasonable risk of danger and that consumers wouldn't know about it.
In order to prove a drug was unreasonably dangerous and lacked warnings, the plaintiff will have to prove evidence that proves the dangerous drug had a serious side effect that was not part of the manufacturer's warnings. For example, studies have shown that the atypical antipsychotics Abilify and Risperdal can cause gynecomastia in teenage boys and young men. The detrimental psychological effects of growing breasts as a teenage boy can be substantial. A teenage boy's family could bring a failure to warn lawsuit against the manufacturers of certain atypical antipsychotics.
Proving proximate causation may require expert testimony, medical studies and expert testimony. In many cases, a plaintiff's attorney bringing a failure to warn case will consult with an expert even before filing a lawsuit. Usually, the medical studies and expert testimony must align with prevailing views in the expert's community. An expert who has opinions that are too far afield from other experts in his field may not be able to testify.
In order to prove causation, a plaintiff asserting design or manufacturing defects must show proof of a defect as well as causation to recover under the Mississippi Products Liability Act. Defect and causation can be difficult to prove where there are multiple corporations involved in the design and manufacturing of an allegedly defective product. These elements can also be difficult to prove where a claim is cutting-edge. The more novel a claimed defect is, the more difficult it can be to secure reliable expert testimony to support the claim.
A 2012 case arose from a car accident on U.S. Hwy 45 in Mississippi. Doris Riley ran a stop sign and crossed the highway, crashing her Toyota into the side of a Ford Probe. The three-year-old daughter of Kelly Grant, who was driving the Ford Probe, was sitting in the driver's side rear seat and suffered a fatal head injury during the accident.
Grant sued Ford, claiming that the Ford Probe's design and manufacturing defects caused her daughter's death. Ford moved for summary judgment during the course of litigation, and the trial court granted the motion.
In a 2012 Mississippi Supreme Court case, a plaintiff claimed he suffered from asbestosis because of a product used on certain oil and gas drilling rigs where he had been employed. He sued the product manufacturer, alleging design defects and failure to warn, and also sued for intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
The product was a drilling additive used to increase the viscosity of drilling mud fluids called Flosal, which contained 85-95% asbestos. The fluids were used on rigs to lift cuttings from the bottom of the well bore to the surface of it. It would be pumped down the well through a drill pipe and back to the surface with the cuttings.
The plaintiff had worked on oil and gas rigs from 1964-1983. He worked in several capacities and used different viscosifiers, which included Flosal. In 1995, he started to experience shortness of breath, and an x-ray showed pulmonary fibrosis or lung scarring. He wasn't treated for fibrosis then, but he got treatment from a pulmonologist in 2003. The doctor who treated him found that he was probably suffering from asbestosis and conclusively diagnosed him with asbestosis in 2010. Individuals with asbestosis do not develop symptoms until 15-30 years after exposure to asbestos fibers.