Sunscreen Recall Lawsuits

Earlier this year, Johnson & Johnson recalled several popular spray-on sunscreen products after testing found that the sunscreen contained benzene, a dangerous carcinogen. Now sunscreen lawsuits are being filed across the country and may eventually get consolidated into a new “class-action” MDL.

The product liability lawyers at Miller & Zois are currently looking for new sunscreen lawsuit cases from individuals who regularly used one of the spray-on sunscreen products recalled by J&J and were subsequently diagnosed with leukemia or certain other types of cancer. In this post, we will look at the details that led to the sunscreen recall and explain who might qualify for a sunscreen lawsuit.

Spray-On Sunscreen Recall

Valisure is an independent pharmacy with its own product safety testing laboratory. Valisure regularly performs random quality and safety testing on various consumer products and drugs. Back in May, Valisure release a public safety notice stating that lab testing of various spray-on sunscreen products found that these products contained dangerously high levels of benzene.

The presence of high levels of benzene in sunscreen caused immediate alarm because benzene is a toxic chemical that is well-known to cause cancer in humans. Benzene has been around for a long time. Benzene is a product of crude oil and it is widely used for various industrial applications, most notably to make plastic.

Starting in the 1920s, benzene was used for various consumer applications. It was found in shaving cream, and it was used as a solvent and metal cleaner. By the end of the decade, however, it was apparent that benzene was toxic to the human body and its use in consumer applications ended rapidly.

Benzene is now universally recognized as a human carcinogen. A wealth of scientific studies have linked prolonged exposure to benzene to cancer (particularly leukemia) and other medical conditions such as bone marrow failure and cardiovascular disease. The specific malignancies that have been linked to benzene include acute myeloid leukemia (AML), aplastic anemia, acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), and chronic myeloid leukemia (CML).

J&J Sunscreen Recall

Two months after the Valisure report was released disclosing the presence of benzene in certain spray-on sunscreen products, the consumer product giant Johnson & Johnson issued a nationwide safety recall for several of its most popular sunscreen products. The sun care products covered by the J&J recall included those under the Aveeno and Neutrogena brands.

All of the recalled sunscreen products were spray-on aerosol products. These products were recalled because they were found to contain concerning levels of benzene, both in Valisure’s testing and J&J’s own internal testing. The recalled spray-on sunscreens included several of the most popular sunscreen brands on the U.S. market. The recalled J&J products include:

  • NEUTROGENA® Beach Defense® aerosol sunscreen,
  • NEUTROGENA® Cool Dry Sport aerosol sunscreen,
  • NEUTROGENA® Invisible Daily™ defense aerosol sunscreen,
  • NEUTROGENA® Ultra Sheer® aerosol sunscreen, and
  • AVEENO® Protect + Refresh aerosol sunscreen.

All of these products were found to contain levels of benzene at the high end of the levels found in the Valisure testing. The details of J&J’s own internal testing were not publicly released, but they were presumably consistent with the Valisure results.

Sunscreen Recall Lawsuits

The Johnson & Johnson sunscreen recall was quickly followed by a wave of new product liability and consumer protection lawsuits around the U.S. To date, most of the sunscreen lawsuits that have been filed are based on consumer fraud claims. These consumer fraud type of sunscreen lawsuits allege that buyers of the recalled sunscreen were defrauded. They do not allege that the plaintiffs developed cancer or other medical conditions from the sunscreen.

There are some other sunscreen lawsuits getting filed in which the plaintiffs are alleging that their prolonged and frequent use of J&J’s recalled sunscreen products caused them to develop leukemia or suffer other adverse health consequences. These more traditional product liability lawsuits are asserting negligent and strict liability tort claims against J&J and are growing in number.

Do You Qualify for a Sunscreen Lawsuit?

Individuals who may have a strong sunscreen lawsuit would include anyone who frequently used one of the recalled sunscreen products over an extended period of time and was subsequently diagnosed with leukemia (or another type of cancer or medical condition linked to benzene). Frequent and extended use of a recalled sunscreen product means that you used the sunscreen 3-5 times per week for a period of 1 year or longer.

Benzene exposure is most strongly linked to leukemia. However, long-term benzene exposure has been linked to other types of cancer and medical conditions including:

Benzene has also been shown to cause harm to the ovaries in females, leading to decrease ovary size and function.

An example of an “ideal” sunscreen lawsuit plaintiff would be someone who maybe worked outside in the sun all day (e.g., a roofer) in a place like Florida or California and primarily used Neutrogena spray-on sunscreen (or one of the other recalled brands) every workday for several years.

FAQs – Sunscreen Lawsuits

What sunscreen products were recalled?

NEUTROGENA® Beach Defense® aerosol sunscreen, NEUTROGENA® Cool Dry Sport aerosol sunscreen, NEUTROGENA® Invisible Daily™ defense aerosol sunscreen, NEUTROGENA® Ultra Sheer® aerosol sunscreen, and AVEENO® Protect + Refresh aerosol sunscreen.

Why were sunscreen products recalled?

Johnson & Johnson recalled several spray-on sunscreen products because they were found to contain benzene, a toxic chemical that causes cancer.

Contact Us About Filing a Sunscreen Cancer Lawsuit

The product liability lawyers at Miller & Zois handle defective product claims across the country. We are currently accepting new sunscreen cancer cases from anyone who meets the criteria discussed above.