Justice in the Powder Room: Key Cases and Outcomes in Major Talcum Powder Lawsuits

Over the past decade, talcum powder has moved from a trusted household product to the center of major legal scrutiny and public safety debates. Several high-profile lawsuits have alleged that talcum powder causes cancer, specifically ovarian cancer and mesothelioma, due to contamination with asbestos. These cases have not only led to significant financial settlements but also spurred changes in industry practices and consumer awareness. This blog delves into some of the most pivotal talcum powder lawsuits, examining the details of each case and their broader implications on public health and corporate accountability.

  1. Johnson & Johnson’s Multi-Billion Dollar Verdicts:

  • 2018: A Landmark Case in St. Louis
    • Outcome: Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $4.69 billion to 22 women who claimed their ovarian cancer was caused by using the company’s talcum powder. This was one of the largest verdicts in such lawsuits, spotlighting the potential risks of talc products and the company’s responsibility to warn consumers.
    • Impact: This case significantly raised public awareness and led to increased scrutiny of cosmetic products containing talc.
  • 2016: The First Major Blow
    • Outcome: In February 2016, Johnson & Johnson faced its first major legal defeat when a jury awarded $72 million to the family of a woman who died from ovarian cancer after long-term use of talcum powder. This case set a precedent and opened the floodgates for thousands of subsequent lawsuits.
    • Impact: This verdict highlighted the potential for talc-related cancer risks, prompting more consumers to take legal action.
  1. Imerys Talc America’s Bankruptcy Filing:

  • 2019: The Supplier’s Fall
    • Outcome: Imerys Talc America, the supplier of talc to Johnson & Johnson, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the wake of mounting lawsuits and financial liabilities.
    • Impact: This move was significant as it demonstrated the financial strain and legal pressures even on upstream suppliers in the industry, highlighting the extensive reach of litigation.
  1. International Reactions and Lawsuits:

  • Canada and the UK: Global Repercussions
    • Outcome: Similar lawsuits have been filed in other countries, including a class-action lawsuit in Canada and potential claims in the UK, indicating the global concern over talcum powder’s safety.
    • Impact: These international cases underscore the widespread nature of the concerns about talc and have pressured regulatory bodies worldwide to reevaluate product safety standards.
  1. Changes in Product Formulations and Market Withdrawal:

  • 2020: Johnson & Johnson Discontinues Sales
    • Outcome: In May 2020, Johnson & Johnson announced it would stop selling its talc-based baby powder in the United States and Canada.
    • Impact: This decision marked a significant shift in the market, as one of the most iconic products was effectively removed from shelves in North America, influencing other companies to consider similar actions.


The talcum powder lawsuits have been a watershed moment in consumer safety litigation, highlighting the responsibilities of manufacturers to ensure their products are safe and to warn consumers about potential risks. These cases have not only resulted in substantial financial penalties for companies but have also led to regulatory reforms and shifts in consumer preferences towards safer product alternatives.

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