A new lawsuit filed in New Jersey against Johnson & Johnson adds a new charge to the usual complaints of talcum powder: racial targeting. According to statements made by civil rights attorneys Ben Crump and Paul Napoli, not only did Johnson & Johnson know that their talcum powder could cause ovarian cancer, they claim that the company intentionally targeted black women with their advertisements.
The lawsuit began with the National Council of Negro Women who represent over two million men and women. According to the Washington Informer, the NCNW has a large proportion of women who used Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products but were unaware of the potential connection of their products to ovarian cancer.
Johnson & Johnson has been battered by thousands of claims. Last month, an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was denied, leaving a Missouri Appeals Court’s $2.1 billion judgment standing. In June 2020, Johnson & Johnson announced it was pulling their talcum powder products from the market in the U.S. and Canada.
In this latest lawsuit, Ben Crump is bringing the scope of these allegations to the African-American community in particular. In a statement, Crump said, “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.”
As evidence for these charges, Crump cites reports on Johnson & Johnson’s targeted marketing. Of particular note is one report which detailed that from 2008–2010, Johnson & Johnson spent nearly half their promotion budget on targeted marketing aimed at “overweight and minority women.”
Crump says that the internal documents of the Johnson & Johnson corporation prove that while the corporation made these marketing pushes, “company executives knew the risk of ovarian cancer from talc.”
In addition to asking for legal fees and damages, Crump and Napoli are requesting “equally targeted corrective outreach to the Black community” as one of the aims of the lawsuit.