“We’ve filed one case in Atlanta, New Jersey and two more in St. Louis, Missouri, and we’re investigating many, many other cases,” says Smith.
Last fall, Smith represented Deane Berg, a Sioux Falls, South Dakota woman with ovarian cancer in the first-ever product liability case against Johnson and Johnson (J&J) involving baby powder.
The jury found that J&J was negligent and failed to warn Berg that talcum-based powders were linked to ovarian cancer, and that, in fact, J&J did cause Berg’s cancer.
Although South Dakota law says damages must be awarded when liability is found, the jury in this case failed to do so. Smith has filed a post-motion asking that a new trial be conducted strictly for damages.
“The defendants did not dispute my client’s several hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills, they did not dispute that she had cancer, nor did they dispute that she has suffered mentally, emotionally and physically,” says Smith.
“The law in South Dakota is clear,” he says. “You cannot give a zero verdict when you rule that the defendant was negligent, liable and the product caused harm.”
Smith’s firm has had extensive experience litigating cases on behalf of people with lung disease, known silicosis, resulting from exposure to silicates often from workplace exposure to sandblasting, sanders and other similar types of equipment.
The firm’s experience with disease and mineral particles was a bridge to investigating the new and emerging area of ovarian cancer and exposure to talc-based powders like Johnson and Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower baby powder products, commonly used by millions of women around the world.
The potential link between talcum powder-based products and cancer has been the subject of more than 20 studies over the last several decades. Although the American Cancer Society does not list talcum powder as a cancer-causing agent, others do.
In 2007, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) re-evaluated its position and described talc as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”
Dr. Daniel Cramer, a gynecologist and epidemiologist, and a Harvard researcher and professor, believes that as many as “ten percent of all ovarian cancer cases in the US are related to the use of talcum powder.”
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Smith expects the judge in the South Dakota case to rule on his motion in late March. Meanwhile, his firm is “reviewing and investigating” the hundreds and hundreds of calls that have come into his office from women asking about their ovarian cancer and its connection to talcum-based powders.
R. Allen Smith is the founding partner at the Smith Law Firm based in Ridgeland, Mississippi. The firm specializes in product liability litigation, including mesothelioma and asbestos; personal injury cases; motor vehicle accidents and wrongful death suits; and talcum powder/ovarian cancer.