Civil rights attorney Ben Crump has filed a lawsuit against pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson, alleging the company marketed talcum-based baby powder specifically to Black women despite the knowledge that its use could lead to ovarian cancer.
Johnson & Johnson has denied the allegations, saying its marketing campaigns are “multicultural and inclusive,” ABC News reported.
Johnson & Johnson’s marketing strategies included some geared toward African American and overweight women, the outlet reported in 2019, according to internal documents viewed by Reuters.
The company has continued to deny that its products cause cancer even though a Missouri appellate court ruled in 2020 in favor of ovarian cancer victims suing the company claiming their condition was caused by asbestos in Johnson & Johnson baby powder and other talc products.
Crump came to national prominence representing the family of George Floyd after Floyd’s murder by Minneapolis police on May 25, 2020. Now Crump is taking on Johnson & Johnson in a suit he filed on July 27 in New Jersey with his legal partner Paul Napoli on behalf of members of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW).
Founded in 1935, the National Council of Negro Women is a nonprofit that advocates for and empowers women of African descent and their families.
A complaint obtained by Insider alleges that some members of NCNW developed ovarian cancer after using the company’s powder products. The lawsuit accuses Johnson & Johnson of targeting its products to Black women “knowing that Black women were more likely to use the Powder Products and use them regularly. These Powder Products were not safe, however.”
“NCNW has thousands of members who have used J&J’s Powder Products. Some of those members have already been injured through the development of ovarian cancer caused by J&J’s Powder Products,” the suit states. “Others have legitimate reasons to believe that they will develop symptoms and are thus suffering psychological harm while also requiring immediate medical monitoring.”
Crump recently tweeted, “Johnson & Johnson TARGETED Black women in marketing campaigns for their talcum-based baby powder! The lives of Black women MATTER! This multi-billion dollar corporation must be held accountable for knowingly marketing its harmful, ovarian cancer-causing product to Black women!”
Black Lives Matter @juliansgarcia1 tweetd, “Thank God 4 Mr. Benjamin Crump”
“This company, through its words and images, told Black women that we were offensive in our natural state and needed to use their products to stay fresh,” said Janice Mathis, the executive director of the NCNW. “Generations of Black women believed them and made it our daily practice to use their products in ways that put us at risk of cancer — and we taught our daughters to do the same.”
“I would be remiss if I did not say exactly what this lawsuit is about. It is about the lives of our grandmothers, our mothers, our sisters, our daughters, our nieces, and our wives, and how they were sinisterly targeted by Johnson and Johnson,” Crump said at a news conference attended by family members who had lost loved ones to ovarian cancer. “This multi-billion-dollar corporation, their corporate executives know about the link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer.”
“Black women have always been the backbone of this country, standing up for everyone, but receiving the least amount of respect,” Crump said. “Well, it is time that we stand up for Black women.”
In June 2020, an appellate court in Missouri upheld more than $2 billion in damages against Johnson & Johnson, saying the company knew there was asbestos in its baby powder, ABC News reported.
Johnson & Johnson has claimed it is dealing with more than 20,000 lawsuits over its talcum products, and in 2020 the company stopped selling talc-based baby powder in the U.S., blaming reduced demand due to misinformation and litigation advertising.
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