When it comes to talcum powder and cancer, there appears to be no end in sight for Johnson & Johnson, which has been under a virtual siege of lawsuits in recent years alleging that that talcum powder itself causes cancer or that the powder contains cancer-causing asbestos. Now the company’s legal troubles have taken a new turn: the talcum powder warning label.
There’s big bucks at stake here for the $360 billion company. In a St. Louis trial in July that made big headlines, Johnson & Johnson was socked with a $4.69 billion payout to 22 women who claimed their ovarian cancer was due to the company’s talcum baby powder.
Attorney Mark Lanier, who won the July case, is now representing seven women in Hermelinda Luna vs. Johnson & Johnson, a case which represents a whole new arena of concern. This time, the issue is an alleged violation of California’s False Advertising Law, its Unfair Competition Law and Proposition 65, based on the purported contamination of the product. Proposition 65 requires companies to issue cancer warnings to the public if the business’ products or operations may expose customers to known cancer-causing agents.
The seven women are seeking a warning label on the product and penalties of $2,500 per day for each day the product is sold without warning labels. The case will be heard in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
The jury will need to decide whether Johnson & Johnson’s powder is in fact contaminated with asbestos and whether the company’s representation of the product as safe and pure is a violation of the law.
In addition to Lanier, the women are additionally represented by the law firm Burg Simpson Eldredge Hersh & Jardine PC. The case was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court in March 2018. Johnson & Johnson removed the case to federal court in May. In August, U.S. District Court Judge George Wu denied the women’s request that the case be moved back to California state court.
In September, Johnson & Johnson suffered a serious setback when Judge Wu denied the company’s request that the case be dismissed. The judge argued that the company was demanding more detail than was necessary in a legal complaint, which is formal legal document which sets forth the reasons for a lawsuit by the party filing the lawsuit.