A Brainerd, MN Personal Injury Lawyer Answers FAQ About Talcum Powder

The link between Johnson & Johnson talcum powder and mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer, has never been stronger. In October 2019, the company voluntarily recalled over 30,000 bottles of product which, according to the Food and Drug Administration, were laced with asbestos. The company later denied that the talcum powder contained asbestos fibers.

Largely because of the new evidence of the link between talcum powder and asbestos, as well as the recent recall, our Brainerd, MN personal injury lawyers field lots of calls about talcum powder. We have tried to condense a few of the more common questions and answers into this blog.

How Are Talcum Powder and Asbestos Connected?

Talc and asbestos are both highly-prized minerals. Talc is one of the softest known minerals. It’s commonly used as a stand-alone cosmetic and also as filler in other products, like eye makeup. Talc, by itself, is usually safe.

Asbestos, however, is a different story. When it was first discovered, builders used it as a fireproofing and insulating agent. Back then, asbestos was plentiful and cheap. But scientists soon discovered that it was also highly toxic. In fact, just one microscopic fiber may cause serious conditions like mesothelioma.

As for the link between the two, asbestos and talc are often together in the gound. So, during the mining and extraction process, cross-contamination is very common. J&J claimed it was keeping an eye on this problem, but that is obviously not the case.

How Does Asbestos Affect the Body?

In this respect, asbestos is a lot like lead and other heavy metals. A very small tiny amount of lead may cause metallosis, or metal poisoning. Likewise, as mentioned, one tiny asbestos fiber may cause a serious illness. Just how tiny are these fibers? 20,000 of them can fit in the space between Abraham Lincoln’s mouth and nose on a penny.

Mesothelioma is a very rare form of lung cancer. Because it is so rare, many doctors misdiagnose mesothelioma as non-small-cell lung carcinoma. NSCLC is much more common, and also much less aggressive. As a result, the prescribed treatment regimen is often ineffective, and the cancer spreads.

Mesothelioma survival rates have increased substantially since the 1990s, so treatment is often available. However, due to the nature of this disease, treatment is also very expensive.

Asbestos exposure may also cause asbestosis, which is basically scar tissue buildup in the lungs. Like mesothelioma, asbestosis is quite rare. Doctors often misdiagnose this condition as COPD or bronchitis. So, by the time doctors give a correct diagnosis, the only available treatment may be a radical lung transplant. Even this risky procedure is not always effective.

Both mesothelioma and asbestosis have very long latency periods. Most people are sick for several decades before symptoms appear. This issue carries over to the next questions, which is. . .

I Used Talcum Powder Many Years Ago. Is It Too Late to Call a Brainerd, MN Personal Injury Lawyer?

Definitely not. True, the statute of limitations in these cases is normally only two years. But with injuries of this kind, Brainerd, MN personal injury lawyers often turn to the discovery rule. According to this doctrine, the statute of limitations clock does not begin ticking until victims:

  • Know or should know the full extent of their illness or injury, and
  • Connect their condition with the defendant’s wrongful conduct.

In this case, the defendant’s wrongful conduct is twofold. First, J&J allowed asbestos fibers to leak into its talcum powder. Second, company executives knew that there was a problem, yet they did nothing to correct it. Because of this twofold misconduct, Brainerd, MN personal injury lawyers are often able to obtain substantial compensation in these cases.

On a related note, even if you have a pre-existing condition, like a family history of cancer, full compensation is usually available.

Why is Johnson & Johnson Fighting This So Hard? Wouldn’t It Be Cheaper to Settle Quickly and Quietly?

Many dangerous drug claims do settle quickly and quietly. Normally, the manufacturer wants to keep this news out of the headlines. Additionally, from a pure numbers standpoint, talcum powder sales only make up a small percentage of Johnson & Johnson’s business. So, from that perspective, it makes little sense to contest these cases.

But for J&J, there is more at stake than dollars and cents. Talcum powder is essential to J&J’s brand. So, its lawyers are not really fighting for money. They are fighting to protect J&J’s name.

Many plaintiffs are the same way. Bringing attention to this issue is more important than money damages. So, our Brainerd, MN personal injury lawyers fight for both compensation and justice.

Contact an Assertive Attorney

The link between talcum powder and mesothelioma is becoming clearer and clearer. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd, MN personal injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We do not charge upfront legal fees in injury cases.


A Brainerd, MN Injury Lawyer Examines Recent Talcum Powder Developments

Even in the face of a criminal investigation, pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson is more determined than ever to fight these defective product lawsuits.

In July 2019, a federal grand jury in Washinton, D.C. began exploring allegations that J&J executives knew its talcum powder was laced with deadly asbestos, but the company did nothing to address the issue. The investigation could lead to a federal indictment. In a parallel proceeding, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration vowed to look more closely at the talcum powder manufacturing process to ensure that cosmetic products, including baby powder, do not contain asbestos.

Despite these developments, J&J is determined to have its day in court. In fact, the company’s lawyers are fighting a plaintiff’s motion to voluntarily dismiss a cancer link lawsuit. Company officials are afraid the attorneys may use the opportunity to add even more plaintiffs to the action. The unusual move shows how determined J&J is to protect its brand. Even though baby powder sales represent only a fraction of its income, talcum powder has been a signature Johnson & Johnson product for about a century.

Nationwide, J&J faces about 14,000 talcum powder lawsuits. Most recently, a Missouri jury ordered the company to pay $4.69 billion in damages to twenty-two women. J&J is appealing that verdict.

The Link Between Talc and Asbestos

Before its carcinogenic properties became apparent, asbestos was widely used in shipbuilding and construction projects as a cheap insulator. Talc, which is one of the softest available minerals, is in many beauty and hygiene products. These minerals are often next to each other in the ground, so cross-contamination is fairly common.

Talcum powder may not be the only tainted product. Talc’s natural softness makes it an ingredient in many other cosmetic products, like makeup. In March 2019, the Food and Drug Administration found traces of asbestos in Claire’s makeup. The company, which usually markets its products to young teenage girls, voluntarily recalled the tainted products.

But J&J’s apparent coverup of the talcum powder-asbestos link is most troubling. From a liability standpoint, this link is not really relevant in civil court. As outlined below, manufacturers are strictly liable for any damages their defective products cause. But from a practical and damages standpoint, the link is huge for Brainerd, MN injury lawyers.

The asbestos link is easy for jurors to follow, because everyone knows that asbestos is dangerous. So, a jury can easily see how women who regularly used talcum powder developed cancer. The link is also important for damages purposes. To obtain punitive damages, a Brainerd, MN injury lawyer must present clear and convincing evidence of recklessness. Covering up a health hazard to preserve sales certainly qualifies as such.

How a Brainerd, MN Injury Lawyer Obtains Compensation

Many times, obtaining compensation in a civil claim is like jumping over a series of hurdles. Getting past the statute of limitations is usually the first hurdle.

Generally, the statute of limitations in injury cases is two years. After that, victims lose the right to file legal claims. Fortunately, the discovery rule extends the time period in defective product and other cases. The clock does not start running until:

  • Victims know the full extent of their injuries, and
  • They reasonably connect those injuries to a particular cause.

Assume Velma Victim uses talcum powder for many years. The asbestos fibers in that talcum powder slowly migrate through her body. These toxic fibers may cause many types of serious illnesses, including ovarian cancer and mesothelioma. But Velma does not know about that link until she reads about asbestos contamination on the internet. At that point, she has two years to file a claim. That’s usually enough time for a Brainerd, MN Injury lawyer to preserve her rights, as long as she acts quickly.

Liability is the next hurdle. Much like the statute of limitations problem, this hurdle is not very high either. Under the law, manufacturers are strictly liable for:

  • Design defects, and
  • Manufacturing defects.

Arguably, talcum powder involves both these defects. Cornstarch and other safer materials are available which have roughly the same properties as talc. The failure to use a safe, available alternative is generally a design defect. Furthermore, as outlined above, J&J may have allowed dangerous asbestos fibers to mix into the talcum powder it sold to millions of women.

Resolving the case is the third hurdle. Generally, injury claims settle out of court. But that may not be the case with regard to talcum powder cases. J&J is determined to protect its brand, so its lawyers often refuse to compromise on key points. Therefore, your Brainerd, MN injury lawyer must be very aggressive in these situations. Otherwise, victims may not receive the compensation they deserve.

Connect with an Assertive Attorney

With regard to talcum powder, a sprinkle a day could lead to serious injury. For a free consultation with an experienced Brainerd, MN injury lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Home and hospital visits are available.

Should I Call a Buffalo Personal Injury Lawyer If I Used Talcum Powder?

Recent developments in the nationwide talcum powder lawsuits are very favorable to victims. So, even if you used talcum powder years ago, you should definitely discuss your legal options with a Buffalo personal injury lawyer.

Facing an avalanche of liability lawsuits, Johnson & Johnson talc supplier Imerys Talc America filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February 2019. ITA officials said they believed the 11,000-plus lawsuits were not meritorious, but the company could not afford the legal fees necessary to defend itself in court. A few months earlier, a Missouri jury awarded a staggering $4.7 billion to over twenty women who said that J&J’s talcum powder caused their cancers. Shortly before trial, ITA settled with the plaintiffs in that case for an undisclosed amount.

Johnson & Johnson claims that its talcum powder is safe and said it plans to appeal this most recent verdict.

Talcum Powder Injuries

Until very recently, talcum powder claims, like many other defective product claims, relied on inductive reasoning. The victim used talcum powder over a long period of time, and the victim developed ovarian cancer. So, the talcum powder must have caused the injury.

Let’s put this in more simplistic terms. Inductive reasoning is a conclusion based on very little observation. For example, if Johnny ate spinach and Johnny threw up, then Johnny must be allergic to spinach. A good Buffalo personal injury lawyer can make a connection like that hold up in court, but it isn’t easy.

But assume that Johnny ate spinach that contained traces of strychnine (rat poison) and he later threw up. That connection, while not absolute, is much stronger.

It turns out that women who used talcum powder were not just using talcum powder. They were probably using talcum powder laced with asbestos. This substance is incredibly toxic. Just one fiber can cause cancer. These fibers are incredibly small. 20,000 of them can fit in the space between Abraham Lincoln’s nose and mouth on a U.S. penny. Tiny particles like these can easily migrate to a woman’s sensitive reproductive areas, as well as other parts of the body.

The talcum powder-asbestos link is not surprising. These minerals are very similar, so they often come out of the same general area and go through the same general refining process in about the same area.

The real bombshell in this development is Johnson & Johnson’s knowledge. Between 1972 and 2000, J&J executives had access to thousands of documents detailing the chemical properties of talcum powder. These documents repeatedly used words like “rods,” “fiberform,” and other common asbestos euphemisms.

It gets worse. In 1976, J&J told the Food and Drug Administration that no asbestos had ever been detected in any of its talcum powder products. But between 1972 and 1975, at least three different lab reports, which were in the possession of Johnson & Johnson, showed elevated asbestos levels.

How a Buffalo Personal Injury Attorney Overcomes Legal Hurdles

Cancer usually has a very long incubation period. It may be years or even decades before a victim shows environmental cancer symptoms. Additionally, when they see doctors, the physician often misdiagnosis the condition. The statute of limitations is usually only two years in mass tort cases. So, these delays could be a serious problem.

But the longstanding discovery rule tolls the statute of limitations in these cases. Under Minnesota law, the limitation clock does not begin running until the victim/plaintiff:

  • Knows about the illness, injury, or other condition, and
  • Connects that condition to the defendant’s conduct or misconduct.

Buffalo personal injury attorneys can use the discovery rule in other contexts as well. Assume Mike takes Drug X in 2018, the company amends the warning label in 2019 (after he stopped taking the drug), he goes to the doctor in 2020, and he sees a TV ad which links Drug X and his condition in 2021. The insurance company may argue that the statute of limitations expired in 2018 (two years after took Drug X). But because of the discovery rule, Mike has until 2023 to file a claim.

The Talcum Powder Lawsuit Process

Most talcum powder, mesothelioma, and other mass tort claims are MDL actions. Multi-District Litigation is a way to consolidate many claims that do not qualify as class actions because their facts are not similar enough.

MDL is great for victim/plaintiffs. One judge controls all the discovery and other pretrial aspects of the case. This judge usually has a great deal of experience with that particular kind of case. Additionally, victim/plaintiffs can pool their resources. It’s almost like one Buffalo personal injury attorney is taking on J&J. Finally, if one case settles, the settlement creates momentum in other negotiations. The dominos start falling the right way.

Contact an Aggressive Lawyer

Talcum powder use can cause serious injury. For a free consultation with an experienced Buffalo personal injury attorney, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We do not charge upfront legal fees in negligence cases.

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