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Johnson & Johnson removes cases alleging baby powder caused ovarian cancer

By Heather Gvillo | Jun 8, 2015

| Shutterstock

Johnson & Johnson has removed to federal court two separate cases alleging its baby powder caused two women to develop ovarian cancer after they used the powder as a feminine hygiene product for years.

Candace Lewis filed her complaint on March 27 and Judith Harlan filed her complaint on April 9 against Johnson & Johnson, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies Inc., Imerys Talc America Inc. and Walgreen Co.

Lewis claims she used Johnson & Johnson baby powder and the Shower to Shower powder, both talc-based products, to dust her perineum for feminine hygiene purposes from 1981 to 2014.

Harlan claims she used Johnson & Johnson baby powder from 1964 until 2013.

As a result, both women claim they developed ovarian cancer.

Their suits documented several studies linking cancer to the baby powder. According to the complaints, the first study linking cancer to the produce emerged in 1971. Ten years later, a 1982 study revealed a 92 percent increased risk in the cancer with women who reported genital talc use. Since then, there have been 22 additional studies providing data linking the association of talc to ovarian cancer.

Johnson & Johnson filed a notice of removal to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois in both cases through attorney Madeleine McDonough of Shook, Hardy & Bacon.

The defendant argues removal is proper in these cases because complete diversity of citizenship exists. Johnson & Johnson is a citizen of New Jersey and Imerys is a citizen of Delaware and California.

Additionally, Johnson & Johnson claims the plaintiffs fraudulently joined Walgreens “with the sole purpose of depriving defendants’ of their right to a federal forum.”

The defendant claims Walgreens “did nothing more than provide shelf space for the retail of consumer products.”

Lewis seeks punitive damages in excess of $50,000, plus attorneys’ fees and costs.

Harlan seeks a judgment of more than $400,000, plus unspecified punitive damages, costs and other relief the court deems just.

Lewis is represented by James Onder, William Blair, Michael Quillin and Stephanie Rados of Onder, Shelton, O’Leary and Peterson of St. Louis, Mo.; R. Allen Smith Jr. of the Smith Law Firm in Ridgeland, Miss.; Timothy Porter, Patrick Malouf and John Givens of Porter and Malouf in Jackson, Miss.; and Ted Meadows of Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis and Miles in Montgomery, Ala.

Harlan is represented by the Onder, Shelton, O’Leary & Peterson law firm in St. Louis.

Madison County Circuit Court case number 15-L-84 and 15-L-409

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