Ben Crump is taking on Johnson & Johnson.
The famed civil rights attorney has filed a lawsuit against J&J on behalf of the National Council of Negro Women, a nonprofit that has accused the pharmaceutical company of selling “cancerous” talcum powder targeted at Black women. J&J faced a similar lawsuit several years ago and was ordered to pay $2.1 billion to plaintiffs who claimed the company knowingly sold talc products that included cancer-causing ingredients. The suit specifically points to J&J’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower deodorizer.
“For years, J&J marketed and sold these talc-based products as safe for consumers and urged their daily use to control sweat and body odor and protect users’ skin,” read the complaint, obtained by CBS News. “Internal documents demonstrate that J&J targeted those advertisements to Black women, knowing that Black women were more likely to use the Powder Products and to use them regularly. These talc Powder Products were not safe, however: We now know what J&J knew long before it pulled its talc-based Powder Products from the market—that J&J’s Powder Products can cause ovarian cancer.”
J&J has repeatedly denied that its baby powder was contaminated with cancer-causing asbestos. The company pointed to “decades of independent scientific evaluations” that conclude the products in question were completely safe if used properly. As pointed out by CBS News, a government-led study covering data from more than 250,000 women found no strong evidence that J&J’s talc-based products resulted in cancer; however, the the study’s lead author Katie O’Brien said the findings were “ambiguous.”
“This lawsuit is about the lives of our grandmothers, our mothers, our wives, sisters and daughters — all of the women who were cynically targeted by Johnson & Johnson,” Crump said in a press release. “All the while, company executives knew the risk of ovarian cancer from talc.”
The plaintiffs are suing J&J for negligence, consumer fraud, and failure to warn customers of a possible defect in a product. They are seeking unspecified damages.