Lawsuit says J&J knowingly put black woman at risk with baby powder

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A national Black women’s group is suing Johnson & Johnson, claiming the company marketed its baby powder to Black women for decades despite knowing it had ingredients that could cause ovarian cancer.

The National Council of Negro Women, or NCNW, filed a lawsuit Tuesday in the Superior Court of New Jersey. The organization claims in the lawsuit that several of its members have used Johnson & Johnson baby powder for years and now have ovarian cancer. 

“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,” the complaint states. “These talc powder products were not safe, however.”

The NCNW lawsuit comes roughly three years after a Missouri court ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $4.7 billion in damages to women in a similar case. That settlement amount was later reduced to $2.1 billion.

Florida-based civil rights attorney Ben Crump is representing NCNW for the case. The organization is suing Johnson & Johnson for negligence, failure to warn customers of a possible defect in a product and consumer fraud. The lawsuit doesn’t specify an exact monetary amount the organization is seeking in damages.

“This lawsuit is about the lives of our grandmothers, our mothers, our wives, sisters and daughters — all of whom were cynically targeted by Johnson and Johnson,” Crump said at a press conference held on Tuesday in Washington, D.C.  “All the while, company executives knew the risk of ovarian cancer from talc,” the attorney said.

In an emailed statement Tuesday, Johnson & Johnson denied its products cause cancer. “The accusations being made against our company are false, and the idea that our Company would purposefully and systematically target a community with bad intentions is unreasonable and absurd,” the company stated.

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