According to the lawsuit, filed by plaintiff Mona Estrada ( Mona Estrada v. Johnson & Johnson et al., case number 2:14-cv-01051, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California) studies have shown a 33% increased risk for ovarian cancer associated with talcum powder among women who use it on their genitals. Yet the only warnings on the product labels tell users to keep the powder away from their eyes, avoid inhalation and to use externally. Estrada, who has used the product since 1950, claims she expected Johnson' Baby Powder, made of scented talc, to be safe.
"As a result of the defendants' misrepresentations and omissions, plaintiff and the proposed class have purchased a product which is potentially lethal,"the complaint states. Estrada alleges she would not have purchased the powder had she been aware of the risk. Estrada is not claiming any personal injury.
Estrada further alleges she has bought J&J's powder since 1950 and believed all this time that the product was safe to use on any external part of her body, and that J&J encouraged women to use the product daily.
"Although the label has changed over time, the message is the same: that the product is safe for use on women as well as babies," the lawsuit states. The lawsuit also states that J&J has known of studies showing that women who used talcum powder on their genital area had a higher risk of ovarian cancer, since at least 1982. Further, the author of a 1982 study was contacted by a J&J doctor who was told the company it should add a warning label to the bottle.
The lawsuit goes on to state that the American Cancer Society (ACS) allegedly said that a 2008 study, linking higher usage of talcum powder to increased risk of cancer, showed the powder "probably"increased the risk for cancer. The ACS compared talcum powder to asbestos, postmenopausal hormone therapy and radiation.
The lawsuit claims J&J violated the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act and Unfair Competition Law, negligently misrepresented its powder and breached its implied warranty.
The putative class is represented by Timothy G. Blood, Leslie E. Hurst, Thomas J. O'Reardon II and Paula M. Roach of Blood Hurst & O'Reardon LLP; W. Daniel Miles III, Lane C. Gould and Alison Douillard Hawthorne of Beasley Allen Crow Methvin Portis & Miles PC; and Allen Smith Jr. of The Smith Law Firm.