Progress in Talcum Powder Multidistrict Litigation in NJ

Johnson & Johnson has known about cancer risks since the 1970s.
Johnson & Johnson has known about cancer risks since the 1970s.

Dozens of talcum powder lawsuits filed on behalf of women who allegedly developed ovarian cancer due to Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based powders are moving forward in a multidistrict litigation now underway in the U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey.

According to a letter submitted to the Court on March 3, the parties have been meeting and conferring via telephone on a weekly basis, and have already agreed on a Protective Order. The order was submitted to and entered by the Court on March 1. The letter also indicated that discussions regarding an ESI protocol, Preservation Order and alternative options to a Plaintiff Fact Sheet are ongoing. (In Re: Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Products Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation – MDL No.2738).

Most of the action in talcum powder litigation has been in state court in St. Louis. Jurors cleared Johnson & Johnson and its talc supplier on March 3 of responsibility for ovarian cancer a woman claims was caused by years of using the consumer giant’s baby powder products. Swann v. Johnson & Johnson, 1422-CC09326-01.

The jury, in Missouri’s 22nd Judicial Circuit, deliberated about seven hours before finding against Nora Daniels in her claims against J&J and Imerys Talc America.

3,100 product liability claims

Johnson & Johnson reported in a recent filing with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) that it has been named a defendant in at least 3,100 product liability claims involving its talc-based powders and ovarian cancer. As of February 15, 134 cases were pending in the multidistrict litigation underway in the District of New Jersey.

Plaintiffs pursuing talcum powder lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson claim that the regular and repeated genital application of Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower talc-based powders contributes to the development of ovarian cancer. They accuse the company of intentionally ignoring research dating back to the 1970s that suggests such a link, and assert that Johnson & Johnson’s alleged failure to warn consumers of this risk was driven by a desire to protect revenues derived from the sale of its talcum powder products.

One of the nation’s largest talcum powder litigations is underway in Missouri’s 22nd Circuit Court in St. Louis, where four cases have already gone to trial. Only one jury has found in favor of Johnson & Johnson. Plaintiffs in three other trials were awarded compensatory and punitive damages amounting to $72 million, $70 million and $55 million. Missouri’s fifth talcum powder trial is scheduled to begin in April. (Case No 1422-CC09012-01)

Women who were diagnosed with ovarian cancer following the long-term use of talc-based products for feminine hygiene purposes may be eligible to file their own talcum powder lawsuit. To learn more, please visit Bernstein Liebhard LLP’s website, or call 800-511-5092 to arrange for a free, no obligation case review.

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