A federal judge in Missouri has allowed conspiracy claims to be included in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by a plaintiff alleging Johnson & Johnson (J&J), Imerys Talc, and other defendants knew the risk of developing ovarian cancer when using talc-based body powders. The wrongful death lawsuit was brought by Michael Blaes, who alleges his wife died from ovarian cancer contracted after prolonged use of J&J products like Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower body powder.
Blaes claims J&J and Imerys Talc knew the risk talcum powder posed when used by women on their genitals yet continued to not only market the product but conspire to cover up the possible link between ovarian cancer and using talc. Among Blaes’ other allegations against J&J, Imerys Talc, Schnuck’s Supermarkets, and Walgreen’s pharmacies are claims of failure to warn, negligence, and breach of warranty.
The case, titled 4:14-CV-213 RLW, was filed in federal court in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.
In his wrongful death suit against Johnson & Johnson, Blaes alleges J&J and Imerys Talc had known for years of the link between using talcum based body powders on a woman’s genitals and the likelihood of developing ovarian cancer. Blaes claims J&J and Imerys Talc formed “Personal Care Products Counsel’s Talc Interested Party Task Force” (TIPTF) in order to stifle government regulation of talcum powder and prevent the public from learning of the dangers it posed.
The TIPTF is alleged to have disseminated altered and possibly falsified studies downplaying any link between using talcum powder and developing ovarian cancer. The plaintiff claims the TIPTF released a number of studies in the 1990’s which were criticized by their own toxicologists for containing false information. Based on this, the presiding judge found sufficient evidence to move forward with claims of civil conspiracy against Johnson & Johnson and its co-defendants.
The suit filed by Blaes is one of many Johnson & Johnson and co-defendants are facing and the number of talcum powder lawsuits filed by women who contracted ovarian cancer continues to rise. The suits make similar allegations that J&J and its co-defendants knew or should have known the risk of developing ovarian cancer when using their talc-based body powders but failed to warn consumers.
Studies circulating since the 1970s show a possible link between ovarian cancer and talcum powder. During one talcum powder lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson in South Dakota, a Harvard researcher testified talcum powder may cause 10,000 cases of ovarian cancer every year. The only warning labels on Johnson & Johnson’s body powders are to keep it away from one’s eyes and out of the reach of children.