Johnson & Johnson, the manufacturer at the center of asbestos lawsuits due to contaminated talc products, is being sued by a black women’s group, according to the New York Times.
The National Council of Negro Women filed the lawsuit Tuesday. The group claims Johnson & Johnson was deceptive toward black women about the safety of some items, notably Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder.
The council accuses Johnson & Johnson of marketing its talc products despite knowing they could cause cancer, including ovarian cancer and mesothelioma. Specifically, the lawsuit is about Johnson & Johnson’s “knowingly deceptive marketing to black women,” according to the New York Times.
Company’s Alleged Marketing Focus on Black Women
According to the lawsuit from the National Council of Negro Women, the company’s marketing strategy focused on selling talc products to black women.
“With the latest suit, the National Council of Negro Women highlighted the racial overtones of Johnson & Johnson’s selling strategy: focusing on a demographic that it knew was more likely to frequently use baby powder but that was at a disadvantage when dealing with potential consequences,” the New York Times report reads.
The reason Johnson & Johnson is liable hinges on the company knowing of the relationship between talc and asbestos. If the manufacturer was aware its products were unsafe, and still marketed them to the public, then they acted maliciously for profit.
So far, most lawsuits are favoring victims, which backs up the belief that Johnson & Johnson was aware of the health risks. The one concerning the targeting of black women might be the most damning yet. Not only did it put people in harm’s way, but the targeting involves callous racial undertones.
According to the New York Times, the lawsuit cites an internal memo highlighting the high usage of Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder among black women. The memo also reportedly mentions “opportunities to grow the franchise” by focusing on this race and gender demographic.
Other marketing efforts, such as a radio advertisement mentioned in the lawsuit, focused on women “skewing African American.”
The company claims the accusation is false. A spokesperson said in a statement, “The idea that we would purposefully and systematically target a community with bad intentions is unreasonable and absurd.”
Johnson & Johnson, Mesothelioma and Women
One of the cancers linked to Johnson & Johnson’s product catalog is mesothelioma, a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Talc and asbestos, both minerals, cohabitate and mix together. Talc is the centerpiece of talcum powder, an ingredient used to improve skincare. Talcum powder can include traces of asbestos and pose a health risk to consumers.
Women are the more likely gender to be affected by Johnson & Johnson talc products. They use Baby Powder or other talc items on themselves or their children. Johnson & Johnson faces more than 25,000 asbestos lawsuits, many of which are from women.
Johnson & Johnson stopped marketing and selling Baby Powder and other talc items in North America and Canada. The decision occurred in 2020, largely due to liabilities related to talc and cancer. Numerous multi‑million‑dollar verdicts favored victims against Johnson & Johnson. Some victims had mesothelioma.
If you have mesothelioma and used Johnson & Johnson products, we recommend speaking with an attorney. The company reiterates the products are safe despite tests proving there’s a relationship between talcum powder and asbestos.
Johnson & Johnson is reportedly considering placing all asbestos liabilities into a new subsidiary, which would file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to avoid future lawsuits. This tactic is common.
If you’d like to speak with a lawyer, we can help. Contact our patient advocate team, specifically Carl Jewett, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sources & Author
- Black women’s group sues Johnson & Johnson over talc baby powder. New York Times. Accessed: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/27/business/johnson-baby-powder-black-women.html. Accessed: 07/27/2021.
Sources & Author