Has The Talcum Powder Lawsuit Been Settled?
Some talcum powder lawsuits have reached settlement agreements, but thousands are still pending as of January 2022. Many of these lawsuits are a part of MDL 2738, also known as “Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Products Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation.”
This litigation alleges that multinational corporation Johnson & Johnson continued to manufacture and market talcum powder products, including Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower, despite knowing they could cause ovarian cancer. Evidence shows that company officials knew about the connection in the early 1970s.
Johnson & Johnson Preparing $3.9 Billion for Talc Settlements
In 2019, Johnson & Johnson said they earmarked $400 million for settlements and legal expenses in these lawsuits. As the number of talcum powder cases rose and some paid out multi-million-dollar awards, it became apparent this would not be enough.
A February 2021 report published by Business Insider says Johnson & Johnson now has a planned reserve of $3.9 billion that can go toward litigation expenses in these cases. However, what this means for individual cases or if it could point toward a global settlement remains to be seen as of January 2022.
The company continues to claim its products did not hurt the plaintiffs. It has also taken steps to try to avoid liability, including moving the talc lawsuits to a subsidiary, LTL Management LLC, and then filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy for that entity. The bankruptcy court will determine how this move will turn out for Johnson & Johnson in 2022, according to Reuters.
Johnson & Johnson’s $100 Million Baby Powder Lawsuit
In late 2020, Johnson & Johnson settled 1,000 lawsuits in the talcum powder cases, the first significant agreements in these claims. After more than 48 months of litigation, they agreed to pay $100 million total for these plaintiffs, according to Reuters.
While these plaintiffs all accused Johnson & Johnson of knowing its signature product, Johnson’s Baby Powder, could cause cancer, the company did not admit any liability in these cases. They paid the settlement but stated that their product did not increase consumers’ cancer risk. According to the company, their “talc is safe, does not contain asbestos, and does not cause cancer.”
Settlement Is Overdue for Black & Hispanic Women
According to a report in Forbes, Johnson & Johnson marketed its talcum powder products specifically to minorities, including Black and Hispanic women. For this reason, these populations may be more at risk for developing ovarian cancer, mesothelioma, and other related cancers.
The lawsuits allege that Johnson & Johnson administrators had concerns about possible carcinogenic agents, including asbestos, in their products during the 1970s and 1980s. The multinational company continued to target Black and Hispanic markets throughout this time, especially in areas where women were likely to be less educated.
Their unique marketing strategies included handing out samples at beauty salons, churches, and community gathering places. In some of these targeted areas, dozens of women have sued the company. Others passed away before the link between cancer and talc products became known. Their families may be able to pursue wrongful death lawsuits, depending on the facts of their cases.
Can I Still Join the Ongoing Litigation?
As of January 2020, you may still sue Johnson & Johnson based on your talcum powder claim as long as you meet the qualifications. The multidistrict litigation is likely still several months or even longer from a global settlement offer. The MDL can and probably will – continue to grow during this time.
The best way to find out if you can pursue compensation in a talc powder cancer case is to speak with a mass tort lawsuit attorney who can assess your options. Most offer free consultations for women who believe they may have a claim against Johnson & Johnson.
In general, a person might have a valid claim if:
- They have a history of talc-based powder usage, often for feminine uses
- They have an ovarian cancer or mesothelioma diagnosis
- Their case falls within the timeframe set by their state
In addition, if your family member met these criteria but passed away from their cancer, you may have a wrongful death claim.
What Types of Damages May Be Recoverable in These Cases?
Most lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson that end with a payout will likely be part of a global, tiered settlement. When a lawsuit goes to trial, the jury will consider the compensable expenses and losses the plaintiff experienced, such as:
- Their medical care, including cancer treatment
- End-of-life support for those with advanced disease
- Lost income and diminished earning capacity, if applicable
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
The largest part of most court payouts to date has been punitive damages. These are only available when awarded by juries. Punitive damages penalize defendants for particularly egregious behavior. When the defendant is a large corporation accused of serious wrongdoing, these awards are often significant.
According to a Reuters report, a Missouri verdict awarded one group of victims $25 million each in punitive damages from Johnson & Johnson.
Talcum Powder Lawsuit – Settlement & Recall – Cancer & Mesothelioma
Johnson & Johnson may have known about the link between talcum powder, asbestos, and cancer for decades before the public became aware of the potential dangers of these products. Reporters from both Reuters and The New York Times investigated Johnson & Johnson and uncovered documents that showed company leadership was aware of asbestos-contaminated talc during the 1970s.
The cancers most commonly linked to asbestos-contaminated talc products include ovarian cancer and mesothelioma. These are the cancers covered in the Johnson & Johnson lawsuits. This litigation also accuses the powder manufacturer of:
- Manufacturing a dangerous product
- Hiding the asbestos contamination in their talc
- Putting consumers at an increased risk of cancer without warning them
- Marketing a product they knew could cause adverse issues
- Causing plaintiffs’ ovarian cancer or mesothelioma
- Causing the plaintiffs physical, financial, and emotional harm
While there has not been a recall on these products, Johnson & Johnson did agree to stop selling talc-based powders in the United States and Canada in 2020. The lack of recall on Johnson’s Baby Powder and other talcum powder products does not affect your ability to sue the company or the potential settlements in this case.
Talcum Powder Lawsuit Settlement Amounts
While the multidistrict litigation has not yet begun bellwether trials, other cases have gone before juries across the country. The outcomes have been somewhat mixed, but when plaintiffs have won, they’ve won big. Some court awards in lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson include:
#1. February 2016: $72 Million
A Missouri jury awarded a woman’s family $10 million in expenses and losses and $62 million in punitive damages in a wrongful death suit. The woman died from Stage 3 ovarian cancer after using Johnson’s baby powder for 35 years. She was 62. The jury agreed that Johnson & Johnson marketed a dangerous product without adequate warnings about the risk of ovarian cancer.
#2. May 2016: $55 Million
Another Missouri jury agreed with the plaintiff that Johnson & Johnson manufactured and marketed a dangerous product and failed to warn consumers. The claimant in this case was a 62-year-old woman with ovarian cancer. She used Johnson & Johnson brand talcum powder products for almost 40 years. The jury awarded her $5 million in compensable damages and $50 million in punitive damages.
#3. August 2017: $417 Million
A Los Angeles, California jury awarded a woman $417 million in damages based on her ovarian cancer diagnosis and history of using Johnson & Johnson talc-based products. This was the first case where the treating physician testified about a possible causal relationship between these products and the plaintiff’s cancer.
#4. July 2018: $4.7 Billion
A Missouri jury awarded 22 plaintiffs a total of almost $4.7 billion in a landmark talcum powder case. All 22 women developed ovarian cancer after using Johnson’s Baby Powder.
While the court later reduced this total to $2.12 billion, Johnson & Johnson still appealed. They asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case after the Missouri Court of Appeals upheld the initial ruling, but the Supreme Court chose not to take the case.
#5. 2020 Settlements in Talcum Powder Lawsuits
In 2020, Johnson & Johnson made the first significant settlements in talcum powder claims. They paid more than 1,000 plaintiffs a total of $100 million to settle their allegations that the company’s products caused their cancer, according to Forbes.
Will My Talcum Powder Case Be Handled as a Class Action?
There are no plans for a class action lawsuit based on the Johnson & Johnson talcum powder cancer claims. In a class action lawsuit, all plaintiffs need to suffer similar injuries. Because of the wide range of severity in these claims, it is better suited to multidistrict litigation.
The suits against Johnson & Johnson were consolidated into MDL 2738 in 2016. This MDL is being heard in the U.S. District Court – District of New Jersey. The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation reported the MDL has 37,447 pending lawsuits as of December 15, 2021. This is almost 1,000 additional plaintiffs since August 2021.
You may still be able to take action and join this MDL, as well. You may qualify if you:
- Used a Johnson & Johnson talc-based powder product such as Johnson’s Baby Powder or Shower to Shower powder
- Used the product regularly for a significant length of time, such as a year or more
- Received a diagnosis of ovarian cancer or mesothelioma
- Meet the applicable deadline to apply, usually within one to four years following your diagnosis, depending on your location
A talcum powder cancer lawsuit attorney can assess your options during a free consultation. These attorneys work based on a contingency fee, so you do not have to worry about paying for their services upfront.
What Is the Average Settlement For Talcum Powder Lawsuits?
It is difficult to tell how much a plaintiff might receive from Johnson & Johnson in a talcum powder settlement. We have three possible indicators, but none provide a reliable estimate.
Recent Court Awards
Some people may believe that the large court payouts awarded in these cases show they can recover millions of dollars in their case, including a significant punitive award. However, it is unlikely. Most cases will not go to trial, and punitive damages are not available without a jury. It is highly unlikely that any individual settlement will reach tens of millions of dollars.
Almost $4 Billion Earmarked for Settlements
The company’s decision to earmark almost $4 billion for the litigation of these cases may be a good start. However, it still does not tell us anything about the possible tiers or the value of a global settlement. In addition, other expenses will likely come from this fund, such as court costs and general legal expenses.
Recent Case Settlements
Possibly the most telling information available is the recent settlement between Johnson & Johnson and 1,000 plaintiffs. They paid an average of about $100,000 per lawsuit in this settlement. However, we do not have details about the severity of the plaintiffs’ illnesses or other key factors that could influence future agreements.
Johnson & Johnson’s recent move to put these cases into a subsidiary and file bankruptcy for that company could also alter the expected course, but this is yet to be seen. It is simply too early to tell what a global, tiered settlement might look like in these cases.
Talcum Powder Settlement
If juries continue to react to the evidence in these cases by awarding massive punitive damages, the talcum powder litigation will likely end with a global settlement. This will likely be tiered, with those who have suffered the most severely receiving more of the payout. However, most of the plaintiffs will need to agree on an offer before it can move forward.
Johnson & Johnson will not want to settle only a portion of the claims. They want to avoid dealing with years of continued litigation over this matter. However, the process will continue until they make an offer that most plaintiffs feel compensates them adequately.
Get a Free Talcum Powder Lawsuit Consultation Today
Law firms handling talc powder lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson provide free consultations for potential claimants. You can talk to a legal professional about your legal rights and your options for getting justice. A lawyer may be able to file your claim and recover a settlement for you.