OUR FIRM IN THE NEWS - Talc Litigation News
October 5, 2013 - South Dakota Jury Ties to Cancer Risk
SIOUX FALLS | A federal jury in Sioux Falls has found that a woman's use of Johnson & Johnson products that contained talcum contributed to her ovarian cancer. (Click Read More)
October 2013 - Talc Litigation Group files the 1st Talc Cancer
Lawsuit Berg v. Johnson & Johnson et al., Case No. 4:09-cv-04179, in the US District Court for the District of South Dakota - was the first of its kind to allege that asbestos-free talcum powder had the potential to cause ovarian cancer. (Click Read More)
September 22, 2010 - Judge: Sioux Falls woman who says talcum powder caused cancer may sue
SIOUX FALLS -- A judge refused to dismiss a Sioux Falls woman's lawsuit claiming she developed ovarian cancer from talc in talcum products sold by Johnson & Johnson. (Read More)
ARGUS LEADER 12-10-2009
A Sioux Falls woman is accusing Johnson and Johnson and two mining companies of failing for decades to warn consumers about a link between ovarian cancer and talcum powder.
Deane Berg, 52, applied talc-based body powder to her perineum each day after showering from 1975 to 2007, she says in a federal lawsuit filed last week. She contracted ovarian cancer in 2006.
Berg maintains that talc caused her cancer and that the companies selling the mineral knew there was a risk but failed to warn the public.
"I feel like women have been kept in the dark about a known hazard," said R. Allen Smith, Berg's lawyer. "It's the classic definition of why we need product liability lawsuits."
Some studies have associated the regular use of talc in the genital area to an increased risk of ovarian cancer. The most recent came in 2008, when a study from Harvard University epidemiologist Margaret Gates suggested women who used the product once a week might increase their risk of contracting the disease by 36 percent. For daily users, the risk jumped by 41 percent.
However, some studies have suggested no association between talc use and ovarian cancer. The American Cancer Society calls the study results inconsistent but advises those with concerns to switch to cornstarch-based powders.
"While the findings aren't considered fact just yet by the American Cancer Society, studies do cause some concern," said Charlotte Hofer, South Dakota's American Cancer Society representative.
Berg and her lawyers are convinced there is a link. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in South Dakota, cites studies about a possible link from as long ago as 1982. While government health agencies in countries such as Great Britain have noted the possible risk, the topic has flown under the radar in the U.S., Smith said.
He's unaware of any other civil lawsuit against producers of talc-based products.
"This is the first case of its kind, to my knowledge," Smith said.
Companies that market talc-based products without a warning label are guilty of negligence, the complaint alleges, as are companies that mine and market the mineral. Johnson and Johnson, mining company Luzenac America and its parent company, Rio Tinto Minerals, are named as defendants.
"My first hope is that we can protect women and make them aware of this link," Smith said. "My second hope is that we can make the industry warn about the dangers of their products."
The lawsuit seeks damages to pay for Berg's two years of cancer care and emotional damages.
Johnson and Johnson representative Bonnie Jacobs wouldn't comment on the case.
Calls to Rio Tinto's headquarters were not returned, but the Web site for Luzenac links to a study that questions any correlation between talc and cancer risk.
The federal government's National Cancer Institute Web site says the use of talc near the vaginal area could increase a woman's risk of ovarian cancer. Similar warnings appear on the sites of the Illinois and New York state departments of health.
The South Dakota Department of Health's Web site does not mention talc. Spokeswoman Barb Buhler said findings are too inconclusive to warrant a state warning.
"The studies cited are small and are suggestive but not very definitive," Buhler said. "The exact cause of ovarian cancer isn't clear."
That could be a problem for Berg, according to Mark Arndt, vice president of the South Dakota Defense Lawyers Association.
Smith, a Mississippi lawyer, is working the case with Rapid City's Gregory Eiesland and fellow Mississippian Tim Porter.
To win a judgment in a product liability lawsuit, Arndt said, they will need to do more than persuade a jury there is a scientific link between talcum powder and cancer.
"To win anything in this lawsuit, she's going to have to prove that talcum powder caused her cancer," Arndt said.
The lawsuit does not point to any physician's finding, however. It cites several studies, but without testimony from a doctor who treated Berg, Arndt said, it could be difficult to show causation.
But even if Berg's lawsuit fails for lack of conclusive data, Arndt said, there is a possibility it could focus attention on the issue and lead scientists to seek more definitive research.
The link between tobacco and cancer wasn't always clear, he said.
"Somebody had to start the tobacco lawsuits. Somebody had to start the asbestos lawsuits," he said. "It's hard to just dismiss it out of hand."
A lawsuit has been filed against Johnson & Johnson by a woman who claims that the company failed to warn consumers that the use of talcum powder in the genital area can increase the risk of ovarian cancer.
The talcum powder cancer lawsuit was filed by Deane Berg, 52, in the U.S. District Court in South Dakota. According to a report in the Argus Leader, Berg alleges that her daily use of Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder for more than 30 years led to her developing ovarian cancer in 2006. The complaint also names two mining companies who sold the mineral without warning that there was a risk.
A 2008 Harvard University study determined that women who applied talcum powder to their genitals daily faced a 41% increased risk of ovarian cancer.
Studies since 1982 have been inconclusive on whether talcum powder is a carcinogen, with some study results showing a correlation and others appearing to disprove such links. The American Cancer Society has said that none of the studies have been conclusive, and advises women to use cornstarch-based powders as a precaution.
The National Cancer Institute and some state health departments warn that the vaginal use of talcum powder could increase ovarian cancer risk.
The product liability lawsuit charges Johnson & Johnson, as well as Luzenac America and Rio Tinto Materials, with negligence and failure to warn.
Prospective Study of Talc Use and Ovarian Cancer
Dorota M. Gertig, David J. Hunter, Daniel W. Cramer, Graham A. Colditz,Frank E. Speizer, Walter C. Willett, Susan E. Hankinson
Affiliations of authors: D. M. Gertig, F. E. Speizer,Channing Laboratory, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA; D. J. Hunter, G. A. Colditz, Channing Laboratory, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, and Harvard Center for Cancer Prevention, Boston; D. W. Cramer, Obstetrics and Gynecology Epidemiology Center, Brigham and Women's Hospital; W. C. Willett, Channing Laboratory, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and Departments of Epidemiology and Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health; S. E. Hankinson, Channing Laboratory, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health.
Correspondence to: Dorota M. Gertig, MB.BS., MHSc., ScD., Centre for Genetic Epidemiology, University of Melbourne, 200 Berkeley St., Carlton 3053, Australia (e-mail:Dorota.Gertig@channing.harvard.edu).
BACKGROUND: Perineal talc use has been associated with an increased risk of ovarian cancer in a number of case-control studies; however, this association remains controversial because of limitedsupporting biologic evidence and the potential for recall bias or selection bias in case-control studies. In this study, weconducted a prospective analysis of perineal talc use and the risk of ovarian cancer. METHODS: The Nurses' Health Study is a prospective study of 121 700 female registered nurses in the United States who were aged 30-55 years at enrollment in 1976. Talc use was ascertained in 1982 by use of a self-administered questionnaire: after exclusions, 78 630 women formed the cohort for analysis. Three hundred seven epithelial ovarian cancers subsequently diagnosed in this cohort through June 1, 1996, were confirmed by medical record review and met inclusion criteria. Proportional hazards models by use of pooled logistic regression were used to derive relative risks (RRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs). RESULTS: In 1982, 40.4% (n = 31 789) of the cohort reported ever using talc, and 14.5% (n = 11 411) reported ever using talc daily. We observed no overall association with ever talc use and epithelial ovarian cancer (multivariate RR = 1.09; 95% CI = 0.86-1.37) and no increase in risk of ovarian cancer with increasing frequency of use. There was a modest elevation in risk for ever talc use and invasive serous ovarian cancer (multivariate RR = 1.40; 95% CI = 1.02-1.91). The risk of epithelial ovarian cancer for talc users was not greater among women who had never had a tubal ligation (multivariate RR = 0.97; 95% CI = 0.71-1.32). CONCLUSION: Our results provide little support for any substantial association between perineal talc use and ovarian cancer risk overall; however, perineal talc use may modestly increase the risk of invasive serous ovarian cancer.