New Jersey State Court Revives 1000 Talcum Powder Cases

Johnson & Johnson (J&J) was stung by an August 2020 New Jersey court ruling that will likely lead to the reinstatement of over 1000 talcum powder cases that had previously been dismissed. The New Jersey Superior Court ruled that Atlantic County Judge Nelson Johnson incorrectly threw out testimony from plaintiffs’ experts Graham Colditz and Daniel Cramer that supports claims brought by two women that talcum powder in J&J’s iconic Baby Powder caused their ovarian cancer. The ruling asserted that the trial judge was wrong to exclude the testimony and should have instead scrutinized the methodologies behind their conclusion that talc can cause ovarian cancer since deciding credibility is a jury issue—not an issue for the judge to decide. The ruling clears the two cases for trial and will likely lead to the revival of 1000 talcum powder cases in J&J’s home state.

What Could This Mean for the Talcum Powder Litigation?

Although the ruling only directly affects two lawsuits, it will also likely impact the 1000 other state talcum powder cases on hold before the same judge. Ted Meadows, one of the lawyers representing women bringing talcum powder lawsuits said that “there are approximately 1000 ovarian cancer cases currently filed in New Jersey state court, with more to come. This ruling paves the way for those cases to proceed to trial.”

The ruling is bad news for J&J, which is headquartered in New Brunswick, New Jersey, because the company had previously tried to transfer the majority of the talcum powder litigation to the Multi-District Litigation in the District Court of New Jersey. However, the August 2020 ruling and the February 2020 New Jersey jury verdict of $750 million awarded to four plaintiffs claiming their mesothelioma was linked to use of the company’s talcum powder may quell that notion for J&J.

Johnson & Johnson’s Response

J&J’s spokeswoman Kim Montagnino commented on the ruling: “We respect the court’s decision and are fully prepared to defend the safety of our product in court. We remain confident that our talc is safe, asbestos free, and does not cause cancer.”

Additional Information on the Talcum Powder Litigation

Johnson & Johnson voluntarily discontinued sales of its talc-based baby powder in the United States and Canada in May 2020. According to J&J’s securities filings, within the past eight months the number of cases alleging that the product causes cancer has increased by 15% and the company now faces more than 20,000 talc lawsuits. Some of those lawsuits claim that the talc itself causes cancer while others claim that the alleged asbestos contamination in the talc causes cancer.

Imerys Talc America—a unit of Paris-based Imerys SA—that mined talc used in J&J’s Baby Powder was also named a defendant in many of the talcum powder lawsuits. However, the company sought bankruptcy protection from creditors last year and offered to settle more than 14,000 talc lawsuits by selling itself and other Imerys units as part of their bankruptcy agreement and put the corresponding proceeds into a trust for the plaintiffs.

How GoldenbergLaw Can Help You

When it comes to handling a talcum powder and ovarian cancer lawsuit, our team is more than qualified to take on the case. GoldenbergLaw has had years of experience with drug-related cases and has had a great amount of success throughout those years. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with talcum powder or mesothelioma after using talcum powder, contact us and get a free consultation.

J&J Discontinues Sales of Talc-Based Baby Powder

Johnson & Johnson announced today it was discontinuing sales of its talc-based baby powder products in the United States and Canada amid a firestorm of lawsuits claiming its signature product contains asbestos. The announcement comes just weeks after US District Judge Freda Wolfson ruled to allow testimony from plaintiffs’ experts in the New Jersey-based Multidistrict Litigation. Thousands of claimants have argued that regular exposure to the baby powder has caused them to develop ovarian cancer and mesothelioma.

Was Decision To Pull Talcum Powder Related To 2019 Recall?

In October 2019, J&J issued its first ever recall of talc-based baby powder after FDA testing found trace amounts of asbestos in the product. The company claims that this is a “commercial decision” due to a 60% decline in sales since 2017 as consumer habits change due in large part to lawsuits filed over the safety of the product.

As to the timing of discontinuing the talc-based Baby Powder, Professor of Marketing at Georgetown, Christie Nordhielm, claims that it appears Johnson & Johnson decided to withdraw from the market while consumers are concerned with the COVID-19 pandemic: “It’s a nice time to quietly do it, it will eliminate reputational hit.”

Thousands of lawsuits from consumers and survivors claim that Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products caused cancer due to contamination with asbestos—a known carcinogen to humans. Internal company records and trial evidence demonstrate that from at least 1971 to the early 2000s, J&J’s raw talc and finished powders sometimes tested positive for small amounts of asbestos.

Johnson & Johnson has also been the target of a federal criminal investigation into their lack of forthrightness about their talc products’ safety. 41 states have investigated Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder in addition to an investigation being launched by a Congressional subcommittee about the health of asbestos in talc-containing consumer products.

The pharmaceutical giant will continue to sell its cornstarch-based powder.

Ruling Clears Plaintiffs For Bellwether Trials

Judge Wolfson ruled on April 27, 2020 that five plaintiffs’ experts in the Talcum Powder litigation against Johnson & Johnson could appear before juries.

This is the first ruling by a federal judge on the reliability of plaintiffs’ experts testifying about whether or not talcum baby powder causes ovarian cancer. Of the five plaintiff experts that Judge Wolfson allowed to testify before juries in talcum powder litigation, two of those experts have testified before Congress on talcum powder safety.

Based on epidemiological studies, the plaintiffs’ experts will be able to testify that J&J’’s talc-based products can contribute to the development of ovarian cancer cancer due to contamination with asbestos and heavy metals. J&J wanted to prevent the plaintiffs’ experts from testifying in order to effectively eliminate all of the cases overseen by Judge Wolfson.

A handful of the more than 16,000 talcum powder lawsuits that have been consolidated under the MDL overseen by Judge Wolfson will now be selected for early “bellwether” trials which can help determine the strength of each side’s case and aid in a potential settlement process.

The decision opens the path for bellwether trials to begin in the MDL sometime in 2021.

Let Us Help

GoldenbergLaw is currently litigating cases where individuals have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer or mesothelioma after long term talcum powder exposure.  To get in touch with us regarding any potential talcum powder cases we may investigate on your behalf, please contact our Senior Partner Stuart Goldenberg at slgoldenberg@goldenberglaw.com or by phone at 612-335-9960, or our Partner Noah Lauricella at nlauricella@goldenberglaw.com or by phone at 612-335-9977.

Contact us today, and let us deliver the Gold standard advocacy you deserve.