A new complaint joins the countless existing claims alleging the talc in Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) baby powder caused cancer in generations of African-American women.
The complaint, filed on behalf of the National Council of Negro Women by nationally renowned civil rights attorney Ben Crump, accuses the company of marketing toxic talcum to Black women despite being aware of the potential risk of ovarian cancer posed by the usage of their products.
The suit, filed in New Jersey state court, highlights the racial undercurrents found in the company’s marketing strategy—pushing Johnson’s Baby Powder, Shower-to-Shower, and other powder-based products in beauty salons, concerts, and even Black churches for decades, despite internal concerns regarding the harm posed by them.
The carcinogen asbestos, commonly found in thermal insulation on basement boilers and pipes, occurs during the talc-mining process, information the company knew about for decades, according to internal documents.
The council’s complaint cites J&J memos and internal presentations highlighting that “African Americans have high affinity for the category and tend to be heavy users,” as evidence of the billion-dollar corporation’s “knowledge that Black women are and have been particularly ‘heavy users’ of its talc-based powder products.”
Considering the company knew of the carcinogenic quality of the powder base and decided to focus its selling strategy on a statistically disadvantaged community is something the council’s leader also noted. Black Americans, especially Black women, are more likely to be uninsured, to die of cancer, and to receive poor medical care due to racism[i].
Alongside financial compensation, the group hopes to raise awareness about the health risks J&J powders pose and encourage Black women to get cancer screenings.
Johnson & Johnson has already had to pay billions in damages to women diagnosed with injuries including ovarian cancer and mesothelioma, among others—a verdict the pharma-giant fought back against, appealing the ruling. Fortunately, it was rejected for review by the U.S. Supreme Court.
At Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo & Plotkin, our attorneys have successfully litigated cases against Johnson & Johnson’s defective and dangerous products. Our lawyers are investigating vaccine, hernia mesh, and especially talcum powder lawsuits and continue to speak to people harmed by Johnson & Johnson products. Our firm has aggressively represented clients and has recovered over $2 billion in medical malpractice, mass tort, personal injury, and product liability cases. If you or a loved one has been harmed by J&J’s talc powder products and want to know if you have a lawsuit, you may speak with our law firm directly by calling us at (212) 684-1880 for a free consultation.