Talcum Powder Lawsuit Update | TheLawFirm.com

Talcum Powder Lawsuit Update

The latest lawsuit trial news and updates for Talcum Powder Lawsuit Trials.

Talcum Powder News: Johnson & Johnson taking Baby Powder off the market in US and Canada

May 19, 2020
Author: Jeremy Fietz

On May 19, 2020, Johnson & Johnson announced that it was removing Johnson's Baby Powder from the US and Canada. They claim the removal is not due to any danger to public health but rather because of “misinformation” about the product:

This should not be read as some kind of capitulation on the ovarian cancer issue or the baby powder litigation.

We tell our clients that Johnson & Johnson is perhaps the most litigious amongst all of the Big Pharma corporations and we can expect them to continue litigating these cases for years to come. That said, in our 20 years of experience representing victims of bad drugs and medical products, removing a questionable product from the market (either “voluntary withdraw” or FDA recall) is often a precursor to settlement of a litigation. If Johnson & Johnson came out and admitted that their product may be causing cancer there would be an incredible flood of new cases because bringing a case would not contain costs and risk. On the other side of the equation, by taking the product off the market, Johnson & Johnson removed a very big issue from future trials - does the jury need to make a statement against the company to protect future users of the product.

Removing the talcum baby powder from the market can be seen as a victory for some of the doctors and scientists that have made it their mission to expose the danger of the product. These scientists have our gratitude for their devotion to public health. On the other hand, those doctors and scientists may now spend less time and energy railing against the product because they have accomplished their public health mission.

Time will tell whether this is a tactic to help Johnson & Johnson fight longer and harder (their default mode) or is it a precursor to settlement.

We recommend to our clients to continue to be patient. There is still likely a long road ahead.

Talcum Powder News: Judges Ruling Denies Johnson & Johnson's Motions To Toss Cases

May 14, 2020
Author: Jeremy Fietz

Federal Court Judge Freda Wolfson, issued a detailed ruling denying defendant Johnson & Johnson’s motions to essentially toss the cases of over 16,000 lawsuits alleging that Johnson’s Baby Powder ™ causes ovarian cancer.

The litigation has had its ups and downs already – from giant verdicts totaling in the billions of dollars, to defense verdicts where jurors found that the baby powder was not responsible for the plaintiff’s cancer, to verdicts that have been overturned.

So far, though, each of those verdicts have only directly affected a handful of cases. While thousands of clients and hundreds of lawyers look to those verdicts for guidance, they are not binding upon any of the cases except the individuals directly involved. The much larger battle rages on the science and the admissibility of experts and opinions in general. That is where Johnson & Johnson had hoped to shut down the entire litigation. They alleged in their motion that there was insufficient evidence that their talcum powder product causes any cancer. They attacked the very ability of victims to bring their cases to Court.

This is a common tactic amongst Big Pharma defense lawyers – to try to prevent the doctors and scientists on the plaintiffs’ side from even bringing their evidence to Court.

In this case, in a voluminous 141 page opinion detailing the basis for the motion, the opposition, and most importantly, the Court’s decision, the Court held that with a few minor exceptions, the plaintiffs’ experts would be permitted to testify that the talcum powder product does cause cancer of the ovaries. The entire opinion may be found here on TheLawFirm.com website:

Wolfson Talc Order pdf.

The decision boils down to the Court’s recognition that: “that the dispute between the parties on the admissibility of various causation experts, here, boils down to which experts are more accurate in their opinions based on competing interpretations of the relevant studies.”

The Court recognized that when there is evidence that could support both factual assertions – that talcum powder causes ovarian cancer or that talcum powder does not cause ovarian cancer, it is not up the Court to decide who is right and who is wrong. The Court correctly decided that when there is evidence on both sides of an issue, it is our system of justice to allow both sides to present their case, through qualified experts and evidence. It is our system of justice to do justice – publicly through the Court system and when there is evidence to support a case, to hear that evidence in open Court.

We applaud Judge Wolfson for not just finding the correct ruling in this case, but for the detail, time, and attention that she obviously put into the incredibly well-written opinion of the Court.

Johnson & Johnson will no doubt appeal the ruling as it was their best chance to eliminate the cases all at once; however, the detail and analysis of the report will make it an uphill battle for Johnson & Johnson to throw these cases out on appeal.

Talcum Powder News: Amid Mounting J&J Talc Asbestos Concerns, US Lawmakers Consider Cosmetics Oversight Reform Bills

March 30, 2020
Author: Daniel Gala

With mounting scientific evidence indicating the presence of asbestos fibers in cosmetic talc products made by Johnson & Johnson and other cosmetics manufacturers, lawmakers in the United States House of Representatives have introduced at least two bills that would comprehensively reform government oversight of the multi-billion-dollar cosmetics industry. The proposed legislative solutions come as roughly 17,000 active lawsuits alleging that J&J talc-based products cause cancer are pending in the District of New Jersey. 

The proposed bill that is furthest along in the legislative process, the Cosmetic Safety Enhancement Act of 2019, was introduced in December by Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr., a New Jersey Democrat and Chairman on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The bill, which underwent markup by the health subcommittee on March 11, would introduce sweeping reforms both in government oversight of the cosmetics industry and with regards to the reporting requirements imposed on cosmetics manufacturers. It would do so by amending chapter six of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act, a law that has seen little change in the better part of a century despite the industries it purports to regulate bearing little resemblance to those the law originally was designed to regulate. 

“First, we’ll consider the Cosmetic Safety Enhancement Act, which I introduced last year to improve and advance the safety of cosmetics and other personal care products,” Rep. Pallone said in a press release at the time of the March 11 markup. “Congress has not updated FDA’s authority to regulate these products in over 80 years. It is long past time that we act so that we can ensure consumers are safe and have confidence in the products they use every day.” 

The vast new government bureaucracy that would be created to execute the policies envisioned in Rep. Pallone's bill would be paid for by a registration fee imposed on manufacturers and distributors.

“Beginning in fiscal year 2020, the Secretary shall in accordance with this section asses and collect an annual fee from every responsible person that manufactures or distributes cosmetic products or cosmetic formulations in the United States,” the bill says. 

A second bill, the Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act of 2019, was introduced in September 2019 by Rep. Janice Schakowsky, Democrat of Illinois, but has yet to undergo committee markup or any other actions since being introduced. 

That the House’s subcommittee on health would continue to consider legislation pertaining to the regulation of talc and other cosmetics even as it addresses the immediate threat posed by the coronavirus crisis reflects the significance the issue has attained in the national consciousness and among lawmakers. 

For the time being, however, with an existing framework that offers little government oversight and even less power to enforce, alleged victims of contaminated cosmetic talc have been forced to take matters into their own hands and seek justice through the courts. 

In addition to the thousands of federal J&J talc-cancer lawsuits centralized as multidistrict litigation (MDL) in New Jersey, scores of state-court claims also have been filed alleging that Johnson’s Baby Powder and J&J’s other talc-based products contain asbestos and can cause mesothelioma and ovarian cancer. While the federal talc-cancer MDL continues to make its way through pretrial discovery en route to its first bellwether trial, a number of state-court trials already have been conducted, yielding mixed results. 

However, there have been several notable successes for plaintiffs suing Johnson & Johnson on talc-cancer claims, including a $4.69 billion talc-cancer verdict returned by a St. Louis-based jury in July 2018. 

As time goes by, the evidence against Johnson & Johnson continues to mount. With each new case, pretrial discovery yields new information about the internal actions of Johnson & Johnson, adding weight to allegations that the company has been aware of the risk of asbestos in its talc for decades but chose to conceal that information rather than warning the public and regulators. Similarly, new research continues to be conducted, including the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) ongoing investigation into the presence of asbestos in cosmetic talc. 

As part of that investigation, the FDA announced in October 2018 that a lab it had hired to carry out the research had detected asbestos fibers in a 22-ounce bottle of Johnson’s Baby Powder purchased online. Though J&J immediately attempted to deflect blame by casting doubt on the validity of the findings, the company initiated a voluntary recall of roughly 33,000 bottles of its flagship product. 

If you or a loved one as been diagnosed with mesothelioma or ovarian cancer after being regularly exposed to Johnson & Johnson talcum-powder products over a period of years, contact the experienced team of attorneys at TheLawFirm.com today for a free legal consultation with a licensed attorney! 

Sources: 

United States House of Representatives. (Accessed 27 March 2020). All Actions H.R. 5279. 116th Congress (2019-2020). 1st Session

United States House of Representatives. (Introduced 3 December 2019). Text: H.R. 5279. 116th Congress (2019-2020). 1st Session

United States House of Representatives Committee on Energy & Commerce. (11 March 2020). Pallone Remarks At Health Subcommittee Markup of 13 Bills. Press Releases. Newsroom

United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (18 October 2019). Johnson’s Baby Powder voluntarily recalled after testing positive for asbestos. Cosmetics Recalls & Alerts

Talcum Powder News: Amid Coronavirus Shutdowns, New Cases Continue To Flood J&J Talc-Cancer MDL

March 25, 2020
Author: Daniel Gala

While the unprecedented global pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus and the resulting stay-at-home orders have understandably consumed much of the nation's attention, multidistrict litigation (MDL) over allegations that talcum-powder products sold by Johnson & Johnson cause cancer continued to grow at a rapid pace, with more than 70 plaintiffs having filed complaints in the litigation just in the week prior to March 24, according to the courts docket.

The J&J talc-cancer MDL was formed in October 2016 in the District of New Jersey to centralize federal lawsuits alleging that Johnson & Johnson talc-based products—including its flagship product Johnson’s Baby Powder—contain highly hazardous asbestos fibers and can cause mesothelioma and ovarian cancer. While the MDL is still early in its pretrial phase and has yet to hold its first bellwether trial, it already has become one of the largest active MDLs in the country by number of cases, and it continues to grow. 

As of March 24, the Johnson & Johnson talc-cancer MDL contained nearly 16,850 total cases, according to information obtained from the court docket and an analysis conducted by TheLawFirm.com. 

In addition to plaintiffs filing their complaints directly with the District of New Jersey, other J&J talc-cancer cases continue to be transferred to the MDL by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML), the judicial body tasked with overseeing the creation and conduct of multidistrict litigation in the United States. On March 20, the JPML issued a pair of transfer orders that sent two cases from the Western District of New York to the MDL in the District of New Jersey. 

Plaintiffs seeking to directly file their claims with the District of New Jersey must complete a Short Form Complaint and Jury Demand, which incorporates the MDL plaintiffs’ master long-form complaint while providing certain information specific to the individual plaintiff.

For example, a short-form complaint filed March 24 shows that plaintiffs may select whether loss of consortium, survivorship, or wrongful death claims apply to their particular case, as well as identifying the relevant injuries and particular products in question. 

For example, item 7 on the short-form complaint allows a plaintiff to check which of the following alleged injury applies to his or her case: 

- Injury to herself
- Injury to the person represented
- Wrongful death
- Survivorship action
- Economic loss
- Loss of services
- Loss of consortium 
- Other 

Further, the J&J talc-cancer short-form complaint also allows plaintiffs to select among the 23 causes of actions listed in the master long-form complaint, which range from strict liability to negligence to fraud, and to choose which defendants apply to a particular case. The four named defendants from which patients may select all that apply include Johnson & Johnson; Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc.; (J&J talc supplier) Imerys Talc America, Inc.; and the Personal Care Products Council (PCPC). 

Plaintiffs also must check which J&J products apply to their case. They may select from Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder or Shower to Shower brand products, or both. 

As one recently filed case makes clear, many of the plaintiffs say that their use of the allegedly harmful J&J talcum-powder products goes back decades. 

“To the best of Plaintiff’s knowledge, Plaintiff/Decedent began using talcum powder product(s) on or about the following date: Approximately 1972 and continued the use of talcum powder product(s) through the following date: Approximately 2019,” says a short-form complaint filed March 24.

Plaintiffs suing J&J on talc-cancer claims have alleged not only that the company’s talc-based products can cause mesothelioma and ovarian cancer, and that the products contain dangerous asbestos fibers, but that Johnson & Johnson employees and researchers have been aware of these risks going back decades, choosing to conceal them rather than inform regulators and customers. 

While Johnson & Johnson continues to maintain adamantly in public and in court that its talcum-powder products are safe, do not cause cancer, and do not contain asbestos, a growing body of scientific evidence suggests otherwise. 

In what may be a landmark moment in talc-cancer litigation, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced in October 2019 that a lab it had hired to investigate the presence of asbestos in cosmetic talc products had identified asbestos fibers in a single 22-ounce bottle of Johnson’s Baby Powder it had purchased online. 

The discovery led to J&J’s voluntarily recalling a single lot of Johnson’s Baby Powder, amounting to roughly 33,000 bottles. However, Johnson & Johnson said that it was doing so “[o]ut of an abundance of caution” and immediately began publicly casting doubt on the validity of the lab’s discovery, a tactic J&J also has employed in an effort to discredit scientific evidence presented in court.

With scientific evidence playing a key role in talc-cancer litigation, the court’s rulings on which experts will be allowed to testify and which will not are expected to have an enormous impact on the ultimate outcome. As new cases continue to join the MDL at a rapid clip, the parties are awaiting a significant discovery ruling by US District Judge Freda L. Wolfson based on arguments presented last July. 

If you or a loved one has developed mesothelioma or ovarian cancer after years of regular exposure to Johnson & Johnson talcum-powder products, contact the experienced team of lawyers at TheLawFirm.com for a free legal consultation with a licensed attorney! 

Sources: 

United States District Court District of New Jersey. (Accessed 24 March 2020). Civil Docket For Case#: 3:16-md-02738-FLW-LHG. MDL No. 2738. In Re: Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Products Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation

United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). (20 March 2020). Conditional Transfer Order (CTO-205). MDL No. 2738.  In Re: Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Products Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation

United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). (20 March 2020). Conditional Transfer Order (CTO-204). MDL No. 2738.  In Re: Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Products Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation

United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (18 October 2019). FDA Advises Consumer to Stop Using Certain Cosmetic Products. Cosmetics Recalls & Alerts

United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (18 October 2019). Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. to Voluntarily Recall a Single Lot of Johnson’s Baby Powder in the United States. Company Announcement. Recalls, Market Withdrawals, & Safety Alerts

Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder News: J&J Talc Supplier Asks For More Time In Bankruptcy, J&J Objects

March 24, 2020
Author: Daniel Gala

From all outside appearances, Johnson & Johnson was largely caught off guard when its long-time talc supplier Imerys filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February 2019. Now, in a sign that tensions between the one-time business partners and co-defendants remain, Johnson & Johnson has objected to Imerys’ request for a further extension of time in which to file its bankruptcy plan.   

In a response to Imerys’ request filed Friday, March 20, J&J argued that Imerys has shown little progress to date despite already having been granted three previous extensions during the 13-month bankruptcy. J&J also accused Imerys of not engaging with them on developing a plan despite J&J being a pivotal stakeholder in the outcome of the bankruptcy.   

Prior to its filing for bankruptcy protection—a move which effectively paused all other pending civil litigation against the company—Imerys had regularly been named as a co-defendant in talc-cancer lawsuits filed against Johnson & Johnson. Thousands of plaintiffs have sued J&J alleging that the company’s talc-based products—including its flagship product Johnson’s Baby Powder—contain highly carcinogenic asbestos fibers and cause cancer.  

Roughly 16,000 federal talc-cancer lawsuits against J&J have been centralized as multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the District of New Jersey, and additional cases have been brought through various state courts. To date, plaintiffs have achieved several notable victories on talc-cancer claims, including a $4.69-billion verdict against J&J and Imerys delivered by St. Louis-based jury in July 2018.   

In its bankruptcy filings, Imerys cited the costs of defending itself on talc-cancer claims and paying out any potential adverse verdicts as among the reasons it could not longer cover its debts.   

Evidence continues to mount suggesting that Johnson & Johnson’s talcum-powder products, which also include its Shower to Shower brand, contain asbestos fibers and that company employees were aware of the risk going back decades but concealed the information rather informing regulators and consumers.   

While Johnson & Johnson continues to advocate vehemently for the safety and purity of its talc products, citing decades of scientific research supposedly supporting these assertions, plaintiffs suing J&J on talc-cancer claims accuse the company of purposely employing testing methodologies that would fail to detect any potential contamination.   

Asbestos is a very dangerous substance that is extremely closely correlated with pleural mesothelioma, a cancer that afflicts the lining of the lungs. In addition to plaintiffs suing over mesothelioma, thousands of female plaintiffs also have sued J&J alleging that years of applying Johnson’s Baby Powder or Shower to Shower products to their genital area caused them to develop ovarian cancer.   

Source:   

Law360. (20 March 2020). J&J Says Talc Supplier Imerys Doesn’t Need More Ch. 11 Time

Talcum Powder FDA News: FDA Releases Final Report On Asbestos In Johnson’s Baby Powder

March 15, 2020
Author: Daniel Gala

On March 9, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released the final report from a study that detected asbestos fibers in nine consumer talc-based products including Johnson’s Baby Powder.   

Although the FDA previously had announced the asbestos-related findings mid-study—resulting in the voluntary recall of more than 30,000 bottles of Johnson’s Baby Powder—the final report contains new details, including the identities of the 43 talc samples that did not test positive for asbestos.   

In releasing the final report of the year-long study, which was conducted by AMA Analytical Services, Inc., the FDA also announced that it would be continuing its talc-asbestos testing in the coming year.   

“The FDA will conduct another talc sampling assignment throughout 2020, with 50 additional samples selected for blinded testing by AMA and will communicate any positive results if found,” said an FDA brief accompanying the release of the final report. “The final results are expected to be released in early 2021.”   

The FDA’s announcement in October 2019 that AMA had detected asbestos fibers in a bottle of Johnson’s Baby Powder purchased online potentially marked a key turning point in the efforts of thousands of plaintiffs to prove their allegations that Johnson’s Baby Powder caused them to develop ovarian cancer or mesothelioma.   

Though Johnson & Johnson—maker of Johnson’s Baby Powder and other talc-based products—continues to adamantly deny the presence of asbestos in its talcum powders, a mounting body of scientific evidence indicates otherwise.   

Roughly 16,000 federal talc-cancer lawsuits against J&J have been centralized as multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the District of New Jersey. The plaintiffs allege not only that J&J talc-containing products are carcinogenic, but that the company has been aware of these risks for decades and chose to actively conceal them rather than alert regulators and consumers.   

To date, plaintiffs suing J&J on talc-cancer claims have had mixed success in state court, with some juries finding for the defendant Johnson & Johnson and others holding the company liable and ordering it to pay significant sums of money, including a $4.69 billion verdict delivered by a St. Louis-based jury in July 2018.   

Sources:   

United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (9 March 2020). FDA In Brief: FDA Releases Final Report of Talc-containing Cosmetic Products Tested for Asbestos. FDA In Brief   

United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (Accessed 14 March 2020). CFSAN FOIA Electronic Reading Room. Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN)   

United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (18 October 2019). FDA Advises Consumers to Stop Using Certain Cosmetic Products. Cosmetics Recalls & Alerts

Talcum Powder Lawsuit News: J&J Reaches Settlement In First Conn. Talc-Cancer Case

March 10, 2020
Author: Daniel Gala

Multibillion-dollar conglomerate Johnson & Johnson has reached a tentative agreement to settle claims against it in the state of Connecticut’s first talc-cancer trial, the Courtrooom View Network (CVN) reported March 6.   

The case will proceed to trial with remaining defendants Honeywell, Kohler, and Briggs & Stratton. Plaintiff Adam Breakell, who has developed mesothelioma, alleges that he was exposed to asbestos fibers from a variety of sources. Asbestos is extremely closely linked with pleural mesothelioma, a particularly deadly form of cancer that afflicts the lining of the lungs.   

J&J, which faces thousands of talc-cancer lawsuits alleging that its talcum-powder products—including Johnson’s Baby Powder—cause mesothelioma and ovarian cancer, has to date employed settlement agreements sparingly, instead seeking to defeat talc-cancer claims at trial or on appeal. Some observers have speculated that Johnson & Johnson has strategically settled cases that it fears it might lose as a means of maintaining a stronger win-loss record at trial.   

In late 2018, J&J settled a New York state talc-cancer case, the first settlement of its kind, according to CVN. Subsequently, J&J reached agreements to end two California cases mid-trial. One of the trials, taking place in Los Angeles, was settled in March 2019, and a second case in Oakland was settled in early 2020.   

After a brief respite, J&J is set to face multiple talc-cancer trials in the coming weeks and months. In March, J&J is scheduled to face its first talc-cancer trial in Illinois state court, as well as two California state-court trials in Los Angeles. In April, J&J is scheduled to participate in the retrial of claims brought by a plaintiff who blames her ovarian cancer on years of exposure to J&J talc-based products. The first trial in that case resulted in a mistrial.   

In addition to scores of state court claims, Johnson & Johnson also faces roughly 16,000 federal lawsuits in the United States. These federal cases have been centralized as multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the District of New Jersey. The J&J talc MDL is still in its early stages, with the parties awaiting a crucial ruling on expert witnesses as the MDL slowly makes its way toward the first bellwether trial.   

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or ovarian cancer after years of regular exposure to Johnson & Johnson talcum-powder products, contact the experienced team of attorneys at TheLawFirm.com today for a free legal consultation!  

Source:   

Siegal, D. (6 March 2020). Johnson & Johnson Reaches Tentative Settlement To Avoid 1st Cosmetic Talc Trial in Connecticut. Courtroom View Network (CVN)

Talcum Powder Lawsuit News: J&J Must Pay $9M In Second Talc-Cancer Trial Loss Of 2020

March 2, 2020
Author: Daniel Gala

A Florida state court jury has found Johnson & Johnson liable for a woman’s mesothelioma, ordering the company to pay $9 million on claims that its talcum-powder products contain the dangerous carcinogen asbestos, which is extremely closely linked with the relatively rare cancer that afflicts the lining of the lungs. 

The verdict, delivered Thursday, February 27, by jurors in Miami was J&J's second consecutive loss in a talc-cancer trial to open 2020, and comes amid mounting evidence of the presence of asbestos in the company’s talc-based products, including Johnson’s Baby Powder. The other loss for J&J involved a New Jersey state court verdict, which found the company liable for $750 million in damages to four plaintiffs, though state law mandated that the total later was reduced to $186.5 million. 

Despite multiple juries now having found J&J liable on talc-cancer claims, and despite the FDA having announced in October 2019 that a lab it hired had detected asbestos in a bottle of Johnson’s Baby Powder, Johnson & Johnson continued to defend its actions with regards to its talcum-powder products. 

“Today’s verdict is at odds with the decades of evidence showing the company acted responsibly and was guided by sound science,” a spokesperson for J&J said in a statement quoted by Bloomberg, subtly shifting the focus away from the safety and purity of company’s products—the subject of earlier messaging—to the reasonable basis for the company’s actions. This evolution in tone might suggest the company is considering abandoning its previous hardline denials about any cancer risks allegedly posed by Johnson’s Baby Powder or the company’s other talc-based products. 

Prior to the $9 million Florida jury verdict, earlier in the week, Johnson & Johnson settled a New York talc-mesothelioma case on the eve of trial. Terms of the settlement agreement were not disclosed publicly. 

Despite the settlements and adverse jury findings, Johnson & Johnson has expressed confidence that it will succeed in having the verdicts against it reversed. 

“The Company believes that it has strong grounds on appeal to overturn these verdicts,” J&J disclosed in its 2019 annual report, filed February 18, 2020, adding, “The Company has established an accrual primarily for defense costs in connection with product liability litigation associated with body powders containing talc.” 

This means that, in accounting terms, despite facing approximately 18,000 active talc-cancer lawsuits, Johnson & Johnson has not set aside money to pay for any aspect but its legal defense.

To the contrary, Bloomberg Intelligence estimates that J&J could be on the hook for as much as $10 billion on talc-cancer claims. 

Federal talc-cancer lawsuits against J&J have been centralized as multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the District of New Jersey. That MDL presently contains roughly 16,400 active cases, having added on average about 100 new cases per week thus far in 2020. Thousands of additional lawsuits have been filed in state courts across the US and in countries around the world. 

Sources: 

Feeley, J. (27 February 2020). J&J Ordered by Jury to Pay $9 Million in Talc-Cancer Case. Bloomberg

Johnson & Johnson. (Filed 18 February 2020). Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 29, 2019. Notes to Financial Statements. Commitments and Contingencies Disclosure [Abstract]. Legal Proceedings. Product Liability

Talcum Powder Lawsuit Update: J&J Talc MDL Passes 16,400 Cases As Parties Await Court’s Ruling On Experts

March 2, 2020
Author: Daniel Gala

Federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) over allegations that talcum-powder products made by consumer-goods giant Johnson & Johnson cause cancer continues to grow, having swelled to more than 16,400 total cases as of the close of February, according to the court’s list of members cases and an analyses conducted by TheLawFirm.com. 

This represents an increase of more than 600 cases in roughly six weeks, with the J&J talc MDL having included approximately 15,800 cases as of January 14, according to a previous count by TheLawFirm.com.

The MDL, located in the District of New Jersey, has centralized federal lawsuits filed by plaintiffs alleging that regular, long-term use of J&J talc-based products, including Johnson’s Baby Powder, caused them or a loved one to develop mesothelioma or ovarian cancer. 

As a mounting body of evidence has added weight to allegations that J&J talc contains asbestos, a growing number of potential plaintiffs have become aware of the possible connection between long-term talcum-powder use and cancer. Asbestos is extremely closely linked to pleural mesothelioma, a form of cancer that afflicts the lining of the lungs. 

With on average about 100 cases per week being added to the J&J talc MDL, most of the court’s activity to date in 2020 has related to dealing with the influx of cases. Formed in August 2018, the MDL is still in its very early stages, with no bellwether trials having been yet scheduled and the parties still engaged in the early stages of the pretrial discovery process. 

According to disclosures contained in Johnson & Johnson’s annual report filed February 18, 2020, “In the [J&J talc] multi-district litigation, the parties have moved to exclude experts, known as Daubert motions. The Court held Daubert hearings in mid-July 2019 and a final round of briefings has been submitted to the Court. The parties are awaiting a decision.” 

With the plaintiffs’ ability to prove their allegations hinging largely on what expert testimony and evidence the court will allow to be presented at trial, the court’s rulings on these issues will impact significantly the future course of the litigation. 

The short-form complaint in the Johnson & Johnson talcum-powder MDL includes a number of alleged injuries from which plaintiffs may select which ones apply to their case. The complaint states: 

“As a result of using talcum powder products, Plaintiff/Decedent suffered personal and economic injury(ies) that are alleged to have been caused by the use of the products identified…below, but not limited to, the following: injury to herself; injury to the person represented; wrongful death; survivorship action; economic loss; loss of services; loss of consortium; other.” 

In all, the plaintiffs in the J&J talc MDL allege, in various combinations, twenty-three different counts against defendants Johnson & Johnson; Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc.; [J&J talc supplier] Imerys Talc America; and Personal Care Products Council (PCPC). 

In addition to the thousands of cases centralized in the federal MDL, Johnson & Johnson also faces a number of talc-related lawsuits in state courts across the country. While plaintiffs to date have obtained mixed results on talc-cancer claims at trial, there have been some notable successes, including a $4.69 billion dollar verdict against J&J returned by a St. Louis-based jury in July 2018. 

Sources: 

United States District Court District of New Jersey. (Accessed 28 February 2020). Member Cases. 3:16-md-02738-FLW-LHG. In Re: Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Products Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation

Johnson & Johnson. (Filed 18 February 2020). Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 29, 2019. Notes to Financial Statements. Commitments and Contingencies Disclosure [Abstract]. Legal Proceedings. Product Liability

Talcum Powder Lawsuit FDA News: After J&J Baby Powder Recall, US FDA Holds Public Meeting On Asbestos In Talc

February 18, 2020
Author: Daniel Gala

The United States’ chief consumer-goods watchdog held on February 4 a public meeting on the issue of asbestos in talc-based consumer products, the most recent example of the increased scrutiny talcum powders are receiving among the public-health community even as manufacturers such as Johnson & Johnson continue to tout their talc products as safe and effective.   

“The purpose of the public meeting was to discuss and obtain scientific data and information on topics related to testing methodologies, terminology, and criteria that can be applied to characterize and measure asbestos and other potentially harmful elongate mineral particles (EMPs) that may be present as contaminants in talc and consumer products, including cosmetics, containing talc as an ingredient,” the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said in a statement posted after the meeting.    

Among the topics discussed were the need not only to develop commonly accepted testing methodologies that reflect the best available science but also to establish an agreed-upon definition of “asbestos" itself.    

As a study co-authored by one of the meeting’s presenters Dr. David Egilman—Clinical Professor of Family Medicine at the Alpert School of Medicine at Brown University—says in an abstract quoted in his presentation materials, “Detection limits for asbestos and elongated mineral particles (EMPs) necessarily depend on what ‘counts’ by a given test method or procedure. Censored data in this context include both particles that fall below and outside of a laboratory’s counting criteria.”    

Such “data censorship” explains not only how different laboratories might legitimately return different test results, but also how unscrupulous labs with a pre-existing agenda might manipulate testing methodologies and definitions in order to better return results favored by paying clients, for example, the corporate defendants in talc-cancer cases.    

This lack of consensus among the scientific community also helps explain how, to date, juries consisting largely of non-expert lay people have returned widely varying results in talc-cancer cases against consumer-goods mega-conglomerate Johnson & Johnson, with verdicts ranging from the $4.69 billion award delivered to 22 plaintiff groups by a St. Louis-based jury in July 2018 to a number of defense verdicts that have found J&J not to be responsible for the plaintiffs’ cancer.    

In fact, much of the FDA’s public meeting centered on whether and which so-called elongated mineral particles (EMPs) should be labeled “asbestos” and/or declared hazardous. Several presenters, including Dr. Egilman, urged for an approach that groups the microscopic fibers not by physical features such as size but by their potential danger to human health.    

“For microscopic methods, in particular, counting criteria may be based on health effects, methodological convenience, or geologic definition,” Dr. Egilman and his colleagues wrote. “For purposes of public health, data censorship for asbestos or EMPs should be predicated on the toxicity of the fibers and not a geologic definition.”    

A disclaimer contained in Dr. Egilman’s presentation indicates that he has testified on behalf of both individual plaintiffs and defendant talc manufacturers in talc-asbestos trials.     

By contrast, Dr. Bryan Bandli of RJ Lee Group in Monroeville, Pennsylvania—who discloses that he presently is working as a defense expert in talc-asbestos litigation—agrees with Dr. Egilman that, when it comes to public health, EMPs should be distinguished by their toxicity to humans, but cautions against grouping EMPs together with asbestos.   

“Grouping a hazardous substance with one that does not have similar toxicological properties prohibits the ability to monitor harmful effects,” Dr. Bandli’s presentation states, adding, “EMPs do not possess the same toxicity as asbestos.”    

Emphasizing the importance of accurate and precise methodologies as well as agreed-upon and meaningful terminology, Dr. Bandli highlighted the potential harms of both under- and overestimation of asbestos levels.    

“Overestimation of environmental asbestos levels and exposure risk based on incorrect science will mistakenly alarm the public and divert attention and financial resources from more socially important endeavors,” the RJ Lee Group presentation says. “Underestimation of environmental asbestos levels and exposure risk can result in failures to properly protect the public health.”    

While the participants at the FDA’s public meeting embraced a scientific tone of objectivity and collegiality, the issues discussed are, in fact, being hotly contested in other quarters, with potentially billions of dollars and justice for tens of thousands of alleged victims hinging on the outcome. Beyond the broader public health concerns, these matters are of central importance to the cases of thousands of plaintiffs who have sued Johnson & Johnson, accusing the company of continuing to sell its talc-based products despite allegedly being aware that the products, including Johnson’s Baby Powder, contain asbestos fibers and can cause mesothelioma and ovarian cancer.    

The public meeting comes on the heels of the FDA’s landmark announcement in October 2019 that a lab it had hired to test Johnson’s Baby Powder had detected asbestos fibers in a 22-ounce bottle of the talc-based product purchased online. The FDA’s findings prompted Johnson & Johnson to voluntarily recall roughly 33,000 bottles of its flagship products, though it claimed to be doing so only “[o]ut of an abundance of caution.”    

The FDA’s own announcement of the detection of asbestos in Johnson’s Baby Powder struck a more precautionary and less defiant tone, describing how asbestos can be a naturally occurring part of talc.    

“During talc mining, if talc mining sites are not selected carefully and steps are not taken to purify the talc ore sufficiently, the talc may be contaminated with asbestos,” the FDA’s October press release warned. “Asbestos is a known carcinogen.”   

As the evidence not only of asbestos’s presence in talc but also of J&J’s having concealed this fact for decades continues to mount, roughly 17,000 federal talc-cancer cases are pending against the company in the District of New Jersey.    

Sources:   

United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (4 February 2020). Public Meeting on Testing Methods for Asbestos in Talc and Cosmetic Products Containing Talc. Meeting. Cosmetics News & Events   

RJ Lee Group. (Presented 4 February 2020). RJ Lee Group Comments. Public Meeting on Testing Methods for Asbestos in Talc and Cosmetic Products Containing Talc. Event Materials   

Egilman, Dr. David. (Presented 4 February 2020). Asbestos “cleavage” fragments cause cancer/ No known safe exposure. Public Meeting on Testing Methods for Asbestos in Talc and Cosmetic Products Containing Talc. Event Materials   

United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (18 October 2019). Baby powder manufacturer voluntarily recalls products for asbestos. FDA News Release. Press Announcements   

Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. (18 October 2019). Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. to Voluntarily Recall a Single Lot of Johnson’s Baby Powder in the United States. Company Announcement. Recalls, Market Withdrawals, Safety Alerts

Talcum Powder Lawsuit News: NJ Jury Says J&J Must Pay $750M On Talc-Cancer Claims; Judge Reduces To $186M

February 10, 2020
Author: Daniel Gala

On Thursday, February 6, a New Jersey state court ordered embattled mega-conglomerate Johnson & Johnson to pay three-quarters of a billion dollars in punitive damages on allegations that its talcum-powder products cause cancer. The verdict followed that of a different jury, which in 2019 found J&J liable on the same claims and ordered the defendant company to pay the four plaintiffs $37.2 million in compensatory damages.  

The $750 million in punitive damages later was reduced by a judge to roughly $186 million dollars, as required under New Jersey state law, which limits punitive damages to five times compensatory damages, a lawyer for the plaintiffs told Reuters.   

Despite the reduction, the juries’ verdicts represents another striking rebuke of Johnson & Johnson over allegations that its talc-based products, including its flagship product Johnson’s Baby Powder, can cause ovarian cancer and mesothelioma.   

“We believe the jury was speaking directly to Alex Gorsky,” plaintiffs attorney Chris Placitella told Reuters, referencing J&J’s CEO, who testified at trial, the first time he had done so before a jury in a case over talc-cancer claims.   

J&J immediately said it would appeal both verdicts, claiming both parts of the trial were tainted by “numerous legal errors that subjected the jury to irrelevant information and prevented them from hearing meaningful evidence,” according to a statement quoted in part by Reuters.   

“Today’s verdict is at odds with the decades of evidence showing that the Company acted responsibly, was guided by sound science and used the most sophisticated testing available for its talc,” the statement also said, per the New Jersey Law Journal.   

Both phases of the trial, which involved four individuals’ claims that J&J baby powder had given them mesothelioma, were marked by a contentious atmosphere, with the closing argument of one of J&J’s attorneys have been stricken in its entirety during the first phase.   

“Stop denigrating the lawyers,” Middlesex County Superior Court Judge Ana Viscomi reprimanded J&J attorney Diane Sullivan in September 2019, after Sullivan referred to plaintiffs’ counsel as “sinister,” according to the New Jersey Law Journal.   

The striking of Sullivan’s closing argument prompted J&J to move for a mistrial, but its motion was denied.   

The case represents just one of roughly 17,000 facing J&J over talc-cancer claims, roughly 16,800 of which are federal lawsuits that have been centralized as multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the District of New Jersey.   

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer or mesothelioma following years of regular exposure to Johnson’s Baby Powder, contact the experienced team of attorneys at TheLawFirm.com today for a free legal consultation!   

Sources:   

Girion, L and Erman, M. (6 February 2020). Jury orders Johnson & Johnson to pay $750 million in New Jersey talc case. Reuters   

Bronstad, A. (10 September 2019). J&J Moves for Talc Mistrial After Judge Strikes Entire Closing Argument. New Jersey Law Journal. Law.com   

Bronstad, A. (6 February 2020). Jury Hits J&J With $750M Talc Verdict. New Jersey Law Journal. Law.com

Talcum Powder Lawsuit News: ‘An Existing Public Health Crisis’ J&J, Dozens Of Others Sued For Alleged Failure To Warn Of Talc Cancer Risk

February 4, 2020
Author: Daniel Gala

An individual plaintiff has sued Johnson & Johnson and dozens of other corporate defendants, including manufacturers and retailers, alleging that the companies have violated California state law by failing to disclose to consumers the risk of cancer associated with the talcum-powder products they produce and/or sell.  

The  lawsuit, filed Wednesday, January 29 in Los Angeles County Superior Court, seeks civil penalties of up to $2,500 per day for each violation of California’s Proposition 65, which requires suppliers and distributors to warn consumers when products pose a known cancer risk. The complaint, also seeks “such temporary injunctions, preliminary injunctions, permanent injunctions, or other orders, as Plaintiffs shall specify in further application to the court.”  

“Talcum powder has been touted and promoted for decades by companies claiming that it helps eliminate friction, is gentle on the skin, and provides a clean, pleasant scent,” the lawsuit alleges. “It commonly has been marketed to unsuspecting mothers for prevention and reduction of babies’ diaper rashes and for use by women as a feminine hygiene product.”  

The suit continues: “Tragically, a growing body of evidence has now established that using talc in the genital area can contribute to or cause ovarian cancer. Medical researchers have raised concerns about the safety of talcum powder for many years, and the link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer is now well documented.”  

In addition to Johnson & Johnson, which faces roughly 17,000 active lawsuits over allegations that its talcum powder products cause ovarian cancer and mesothelioma, the lawsuit’s named defendants include a number of other national household names.     

“This case is brought against the major nationwide suppliers and distributors of talcum powder products in order to address an existing public health crisis arising from the sale of products that contain multiple carcinogenic and reproductive toxins,” the lawsuit says. “The products at issue involve nationwide retail brands, such as Johnson’s Baby, Gold Bond, and Shower to Shower. They also include private label brands distributed and sold at large nationwide retailers, including CVS, Dollar General, Target, Walgreens, and Walmart.”  

The suit accuses the companies of violating California’s Proposition 65, which “required businesses to provide warnings to Californians about significant exposures to chemicals that cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm…By requiring that this information be provided, Proposition 65 enables Californians to make informed decisions about their exposures to these chemicals.”  

The lawsuit further alleges that the “named Defendants have willfully violated Proposition 65 by manufacturing, distributing, and selling products with excess levels of dangerous chemicals.”  

“Defendants have for decades manufactured, distributed, or sold talcum powder products that contain multiple chemicals at levels known to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity,” the lawsuit claims. “The carcinogenic chemicals and reproductive toxins at issue include (1) arsenic (inorganic oxides); (2) chromium (hexavalent compounds); and (3) lead and lead compounds. The chemicals are listed Proposition 65 chemicals known to the State to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity.”  

Notably absent from the list is the highly dangerous substance asbestos, which has been at the heart of much of the talc-cancer litigation that has taken place to date. In October 2019, the  United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that a lab it had hired to test Johnson’s Baby Powder had detected asbestos fibers in a 22-ounce bottle purchased online. While continuing to defend the safety of its talcum-powder products, J&J subsequently issued a voluntary recall of approximately 33,000 bottles of baby powder.  

“During talc mining, if talc mining sites are not selected carefully and steps are not taken to purify the talc ore sufficiently, the talc may be contaminated with asbestos,” the FDA announcement explained.  

The absence of asbestos from the lawsuit is particularly notable because asbestos does appear on the State of California Environmental Protection Agency’s list of “Chemicals Known To The State To Cause Cancer Or Reproductive Toxicity,” having been added in February 1987. One possible explanation is that the attorneys bringing the lawsuit on behalf of the plaintiff felt that they possessed stronger evidence for their claims as they pertain to the other substances. Another is that they did not want to get embroiled in the fierce ongoing legal and scientific debate over the presence of asbestos in talc, choosing to limit their claims to the other listed materials.  

Allegations Of A Cover-Up  

The new Proposition 65 lawsuit goes beyond simply accusing the company’s of failing to adequately warn consumers, going so far as to accuse the defendants of actively concealing information about the carcinogenic potential of talc products.  

“For many years, the [talc] Industry has taken concerted action to conceal and hide the presence of carcinogenic and reproductive toxins in talcum powder products from consumers and the general public,” the lawsuit alleges. “Such actions date back at least to 1976 when the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association (‘CTFA’) issued so-called ‘purity standards’ for talc used in cosmetic products.”  

Rather than help ensure consumer safety, these industry standards instead “were designed to hide the presence of carcinogenic and reproductive toxins in talcum powder products,” the complaint argues. “The Industry redefined ‘talc’ to consist of a minimum of 90% talc with the remainder ‘consisting of naturally associated materials.’…Unbeknownst to consumers, the Industry specification for ‘talc’ expressly includes arsenic (up to 3 ppm) and lead (up to 20 ppm)…Other ‘naturally associated minerals’ found in talcum powder products include hexavalent chromium.” (Emphasis in original.)  

“By including these carcinogens and reproductive toxins in the specification for ‘talc,’ the Industry has misleadingly marketed talcum powder products as containing pure talc and has actively and knowingly taken steps to conceal the presence of Listed Chemicals from consumers,” the suit claims. “The Industry has done so with a profiteering motive, knowing that full disclosure would lead to significant loss in sales and, even more likely, the removal of talcum powder products from the market.”  

Conclusion  

The new lawsuit filed under California’s Proposition 65 shows that litigation over allegations that talc-based products contain cancer-causing substances is far from over, with the scope of such legal actions continuing to expand to include additional products and defendants, including retailers and distributors. With nearly 17,000 individual talc-cancer cases against Johnson & Johnson having been centralized as multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the District of New Jersey, talc-cancer litigation likely will be with us for years to come, as plaintiffs continue to seek justice.    

  Sources:

California Superior Court County of Los  Angeles. (Filed 29 January 2019). Complaint and Demand For Jury Trial. Jan Graham vs. Bausch Health Companies, Inc. et al

 United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (18 October 2019). Baby powder manufacturer voluntarily recalls products or asbestos. FDA News Release. Press Announcements

State of California Environmental Protection Agency Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986. (Updated 3 January 2020). Chemicals Known To The State To Cause Cancer Or Reproductive Toxicity

Talcum Powder Lawsuit News: J&J CEO Testifies In Talc-Cancer Trial For First Time

January 29, 2020
Author: Daniel Gala

On Monday, January 26, embattled Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky appeared for the first time under oath in a trial over allegations that his company’s talcum-powder products cause cancer. Lawyers for J&J had sought to keep Gorsky, who has been at the helm of the multibillion-dollar conglomerate since 2012, from taking the stand.  

In his testimony, Gorsky attempted to distance himself from allegations that Johnson & Johnson has for decades known that its talc-based products contain dangerous asbestos fibers and can cause cancer, yet sought to conceal this information from the public and regulators.   

“I was told by experts in these fields that in fact we were using the most appropriate, most up-to-date methodologies to make sure our talc was safe,” Gorsky testified in New Jersey state court, according to The Wall Street Journal.   

The trial features the claims of four plaintiffs who allege that they contracted mesothelioma of the lungs after being exposed to asbestos fibers present in J&J talc. A state court jury awarded the same plaintiffs $37.3 million in compensatory damages last September, and the instant jury trial—in which Gorsky’s testimony may ultimately play a central role—is intended to determine whether or not J&J’s conduct warrants additional, punitive damages.   

The state court lawsuit, located in the company’s home state of New Jersey, is separate from federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) over talc-cancer claims, also taking place in the Garden State. That MDL has centralized nearly 17,000 talc-cancer lawsuits against J&J.   

Though J&J has long been accused of concealing evidence that its talc contains asbestos—an extremely dangerous carcinogen very closely linked to pleural mesothelioma, which afflicts the lining of the lungs—the allegations gained additional support in October 2019 when the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that a lab it had hired to inspect Johnson’s Baby Powder had detected asbestos fibers in a 22-ounce bottle purchased online.   

In response, J&J voluntarily recalled an entire lot of its flagship product, totaling roughly 33,000 bottles. However, it continues to maintain publicly and in court that its talc products, including Johnson’s Baby Powder, are safe and asbestos-free.   

An attorney for the plaintiffs asked Gorsky whether, following the FDA announcement, he could no longer accurately say that no tests have detected asbestos fibers in Johnson’s Baby Powder.   

“That’s correct,” Gorsky testified, per WSJ.     

While attorneys for J&J had fought hard to keep Gorsky off the stand, arguing that his testimony was not relevant to the case because he had not been directly involved in the research at issue, the presiding judge disagreed, siding with counsel for plaintiffs, who had argued that Gorsky’s multiple public statements on the topic of asbestos in talc had made him a relevant witness.   

While on the stand for more than four hours, Gorsky denied any knowledge of decades’ old company documents that raised concerns about the potential presence of asbestos in J&J talc, saying that he had not personally reviewed the company’s historical documents concerning the issue. These documents came to light during the discovery process for prior talc-cancer trials, illustrating how, over the time, talc-cancer claims continue to gain strength and momentum.     

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or ovarian cancer after years of regular exposure to Johnson & Johnson talcum-powder products, including Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products, contain the attorneys at TheLawFirm.com for a free consultation!  

Sources:   

Loftus, P. (27 January 2020). For First Time, J&J CEO Testifies in a Talcum-Powder Court Case. The Wall Street Journal   

United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (18 October 2019). Baby powder manufacturer voluntarily recalls products for asbestos. FDA News Release. Press Announcements

Talcum Powder Lawsuit Settlement: J&J Settles Calif. Talc-Cancer Case Mid-Trial For $2 Million

January 16, 2020
Author: Daniel Gala

As further evidence that Johnson & Johnson is pursuing a legal strategy of settling difficult cases while taking easier ones to trial in an effort to improve its overall win-loss record, the consumer-goods mega-conglomerate abruptly settled a California-based talc-cancer lawsuit mid-trial, agreeing to pay out roughly $2 million, according to a report from Bloomberg.

An Oakland, California jury had sat through more than two weeks of trial before the parties informed the court on January 6 that a settlement had been reached. While terms of the settlement were not disclosed publicly, Bloomberg reported the $2 million figure based on information from confidential sources with knowledge of the agreement.

Despite mounting evidence to the contrary, J&J has continued to maintain in public and in court that its talc-based products, including its flagship Johnson’s Baby Powder, do not cause cancer. In October 2019, the United States Food and Drug Administration recalled roughly 33,000 bottles of Johnson’s Baby Powder “out of an abundance of caution.” 

“In litigation of every nature there are one-off situations where settlement is a reasonable alternative,” a spokesperson for J&J said in a statement quoted by Bloomberg. “The decision to resolve any particular case in no way changes our overall position that our talc is safe, is asbestos free and does not cause cancer.” 

The plaintiff in the instant case is a 61-year-old Ireland native who moved to the US in 1991 and was diagnosed with mesothelioma in August 2018. The woman, Linda O’Hagan, sued J&J claiming that exposure to asbestos fibers in Johnson’s Baby Powder caused her to develop the deadly cancer, which afflicts the lining of internal organs and is extremely closely correlated with asbestos exposure. Jurors were told that O’Hagan likely has less than two years of life remaining as a result of the disease. 

While more than 16,800 federal talc-cancer lawsuits have been centralized as multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the District of New Jersey, other plaintiffs have opted to sue Johnson & Johnson in state court, achieving mixed results in the process. According to Bloomberg, out of 13 talc-cancer trials conducted during 2019 that featured J&J as a defendant, eight were decided in favor of Johnson & Johnson and five for the plaintiff. 

As a striking example of the disparate outcomes possible in different talc-cancer cases, even within similar jurisdictions, on the same day that O’Hagan’s settlement with J&J was announced to the court, a California state court judge in neighboring Solano County tossed out a lawsuit filed by woman who claimed that she had developed cancer from talcum-powder products containing asbestos. In dismissing the case, the judge found that the plaintiff had failed to meet her burden of demonstrating that the talc-based products the plaintiff personally had used did, in fact, contain asbestos. 

“The mere inference that a talc product might contain asbestos does not create a triable issue,” wrote California Judge Wendy Getty, per Bloomberg. 

Source: 

Feeley, J. (8 January 2019). J&J Said to Pay More Than $2 Million in Rare Talc Accord. Bloomberg

United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (18 October 2019). Baby powder manufacturer voluntarily recalls products for asbestos. FDA News Release

Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. (18 October 2019). Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. to Voluntarily Recall a Single Lot of Johnson’s Baby Powder in the United States. Company Announcement. United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Recalls, Market Withdrawals, & Safety Alerts

Talcum Powder Lawsuit News: J&J Talc MDL Passes 15,800 Cases As Parties Spar Over Experts

January 16, 2020
Author: Daniel Gala

Multidistrict litigation (MDL) centralizing federal lawsuits filed by plaintiffs alleging that Johnson’s Baby Powder caused their or their loved one’s cancer has surpassed 15,800 active cases, according to a count of member cases conducted by TheLawFirm.com on January 14. 

This represents an increase of more than 1,000 cases in the month since December 16, 2019, when the Johnson & Johnson talcum powder MDL contained 14,784 pending actions, according to statistics published by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). At that time, the Johnson’s Baby Powder MDL already was the second largest ongoing MDL in the United States by number of active cases.

Meanwhile, the parties to the MDL continue their multi-month battle over the admissibility of expert witnesses and research-based evidence, a legal slog that ultimately will be pivotal to the outcome not only of the MDL’s bellwether trials, should any be held, but also to the resolution of the nearly 16,000 cases presently contained in the MDL and the many more that are sure to follow. 

The more than 1,000 additional cases to join the MDL since mid-December do so in the aftermath of the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) October 18 announcement that a lab it had hired to test Johnson’s Baby Powder had identified asbestos fibers in a single bottle the lab had purchased online. The discovery led to J&J’s voluntarily withdrawing some 33,000 bottles of its flagship product, which the company continues to argue both publicly and in court is safe for consumers.

The FDA announcement was just the latest blow against J&J as it seeks to defend itself against allegations that not only do its talcum-powder products cause ovarian cancer and mesothelioma but that J&J has known about these risks for decades and, rather than taking active measures to protect its customers, instead concealed this information from the public, regulators, and shareholders, while it continued to promote Johnson’s Baby Powder as safe and “pure”. 

Despite mounting scientific evidence that Johnson’s Baby Powder contains asbestos—a hazardous substance extremely closely linked with the cancer mesothelioma—and can cause ovarian cancer, plaintiffs to date have obtained mixed results in state-court lawsuits against J&J on talc-cancer claims. However, while a number of juries have found J&J not liable on such claims, there have been some notable plaintiff victories, including a $4.69 billion verdict in favor of 22 plaintiff groups delivered by a St. Louis-based jury in July 2018. 

Although some of these early cases have resulted in losses for the plaintiffs, they have played an important role in laying the foundation for later cases, as they have forced J&J to hand over internal documents and other evidence that had never before been made public, casting new light on internal deliberations over concerns that J&J talc might contain asbestos and cause ovarian cancer. 

If you or a loved one has developed mesothelioma or ovarian cancer after years of regular exposure to Johnson’s Baby Powder or Shower to Shower products, contact TheLawFirm.com for a free consultation! 

Sources: 

United States District Court District of New Jersey. (Accessed 14 January 2020). Civil Docket For Case#: 3:16-md-02738-FLW-LHG. Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Products Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation

Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). (16 December 2019). MDL Statistics Report - Distribution of Pending MDL Dockets by Actions Pending

United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (18 October 2019). Baby powder manufacturer voluntarily recalls products for asbestos. FDA News Release

Talcum Powder Lawsuit News: New Mexico AG Sues J&J Over Talc-Cancer Claims

January 7, 2020
Author: Daniel Gala

The attorney general of New Mexico has added his name to the more than 16,000 plaintiffs presently suing multi-billion-dollar conglomerate Johnson & Johnson over allegations that its talcum-powder products, including its flagship Johnson’s Baby Powder, contain dangerous asbestos fibers and can cause various forms of cancer.   

The named defendants include Johnson & Johnson, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies, Inc., Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Corporation, and Valeant Pharmaceuticals North America LLC.   

“Attorney General Balderas today filed a lawsuit in the First Judicial District Court of New Mexico against four corporations that manufactured, advertised, and sold talcum powder products, including baby powder, which contained hazardous and carcinogenic asbestos to New Mexicans,” stated a press release issued by the office of New Mexico AG Hector Balderas.   

“The affected products were sold under the names ‘Johnson’s Baby Powder,’ ‘Johnson’s Medicated Powder,’ and ‘Shower-to-Shower Talcum Powder,’” the press release explains. “The lawsuit alleges that, despite knowing for over forty years that the products contained carcinogenic asbestos and increased the risk of some types of cancer, the companies actively worked to conceal that risk from the public and from government regulators. Instead, the corporations marketed the products as ‘safe’ and ‘healthful.’”   

While the allegations mirror those contained in the roughly 17,000 talc-cancer cases presently facing J&J in the United States—most of which have been centralized as multidistrict litigation (MDL) in New Jersey federal court—the case is one the first of its kind to be brought by a state attorney general.   

“Our office will take immediate action any time a corporation misleads a New Mexican consumer or endangers the health and safety of our families,” New Mexico AG Balderas said in a statement. “These products have been targeted at minority groups, especially Black and Hispanic women and children, with false messages about their safety, and I will hold these companies accountable.”   

The Lawsuit   

The 57-page lawsuit contains seven counts, including alleged violations of the New Mexico Unfair Practices Act; the New Mexico Medicaid Fraud Act; the New Mexico Fraud Against Taxpayers Act; as well as fraud and negligent misrepresentation; negligence; and unjust enrichment.   

While the complaint does not state a specific dollar amount, in addition to seeking declarations that J&J and the other defendants are in violation of the New Mexican statutes cited, Attorney General Balderas also is seeking restitution; the “maximum civil penalties as provided by law”; reimbursement of costs associated with bringing the lawsuit; and punitive damages.   

“By engaging in the above-described conduct, Defendants acted wantonly or oppressively with such malice as implies a spirit of mischief or criminal indifference to civil obligations,” the lawsuit alleges in arguing why punitive damages are warranted.   

“Here, Defendants were marketing and selling dangerous asbestos-containing talcum powder products which Defendants knew contained asbestos and knew would be used as designed on a daily basis all over the consumer’s body, including the genital area,” the complaint summarizes. “Because of the level of danger posed by, and indeed visited upon consumers and the State by these dangerous products, Defendants owed a high duty of care to ensure that the risks and dangers of these products were disclosed and explained to consumers. Defendants chose profit over people, and over the safety of the community.”   

To support these allegations, the lawsuit offers an in-depth summary of studies dating back to the 1990s showing a strong link between talc and ovarian cancer.   

“In 1995, the largest study of its kind to date found a statistically significant 27% increased risk in ovarian cancer for women who regularly use talc in the abdominal or perineal area,” the lawsuit states as just one example cited among more than a dozen. “In 1996, a case-control study found a statistically significant 97% increased risk of ovarian cancer in women who use what they described as ‘moderate’ or higher use of talc-based powders in their genital areas.”   

What did Johnson & Johnson do in response to this troubling information? Did they warn consumers and regulators and pull their talc products from store shelves?   

“Despite the potential catastrophic health consequences, the companies that manufacture and sell talc products have concealed and failed to warn consumers about the dangers associated with their Talc Products,” the lawsuit alleges. “Instead, these companies not only intended, but encouraged women to use their Talc Products in the manner most likely to result in an increased risk of ovarian cancer.”   

Conclusion   

While the lawsuit brought by New Mexico AG Balderas contains many of the same factual allegations and legal claims as thousands of other talc-cancer cases facing Johnson & Johnson, its filing marks yet another stage in the still-developing litigation. It also is worth noting that the filing of AG Balderas’ lawsuit follows revelations by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in October that a lab it had hired to test Johnson’s Baby Powder had detected asbestos fibers in a 22-ounce bottle purchased online. In response to the FDA’s announcement, J&J voluntarily recalled some 33,000 bottles of Johnson’s Baby Powder.   

While plaintiffs have obtained mixed results to date on state-court talc-cancer claims, there have been some notable victories, particularly a $4.69 billion verdict returned by a St. Louis-based jury in July 2018. Additionally, thanks to new research and newly revealed internal documents unearthed during pretrial discovery proceedings, talc-cancer claims against J&J are only growing stronger with time, a trend that portends well for the more than 16,000 cases now centralized in the Johnson’s Baby Powder MDL.     

Sources:    

Office of New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas. (2 January 2020). Attorney General Balderas Files Suit Against Manufacturers of Talcum Powder. Press Release    

State of New Mexico County of Santa Fe First Judicial District Court. (2 January 2020). Plaintiff’s Complaint for Declaratory Relief, Damages, Restitution and Civil Penalties. State  of New Mexico, ex rel. Hector H. Balderas, Attorney General, Plaintiff, v. Johnson & Johnson; Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies, Inc.; Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Corporation; and Valeant Pharmaceuticals North America LLC, Defendants

Talcum Powder Lawsuit News: Parties Spar Over Experts As Talc-Cancer MDL Continues To Grow

January 7, 2020
Author: Daniel Gala

As multidistrict litigation (MDL) over allegations that Johnson’s Baby Powder causes cancer proceeds through pretrial discovery proceedings, with lawyers for both sides battling it out over which evidence will be deemed admissible at trial, the MDL continues to grow rapidly, adding more than 50 new lawsuits in the first two court days of 2020 alone, according to court documents.  

Formed in October 2016, the MDL arises out of mounting evidence of a link between talc-based products and certain forms of cancer, including ovarian cancer and mesothelioma. At the center of the controversy has been multi-billion-dollar global mega-conglomerate Johnson & Johnson, which continues to adamantly deny any link between its flagship Johnson’s Baby Powder and any kind of cancer.  

However, these claims have been increasingly brought under question of late, with the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) having announced in October that a lab it hired had discovered asbestos fibers in a bottle of Johnson’s Baby Powder. Though J&J sought to undermine the reliability of the findings, it did issue a voluntary recall covering approximately 33,000 bottles.  

Meanwhile, the parties to the MDL continue to engage in a protracted battle over which evidence will be admitted at trial. With the claims at issue being so heavily dependent on expert testimony, it is difficult to overstate the importance of which scientific evidence and which expert witnesses ultimately make it before the jury.  

In the latest round of legal arguments, attorneys for J&J have objected to the plaintiffs’ request to admit certain scientific publications they argue support their case.  

In a letter to the court dated December 31, J&J attorney Susan Sharko accused plaintiffs’ counsel of engaging in delay tactics and urged the court not to admit the requested publications.  

“I am writing in response to the PSC’s [Plaintiff Steering Committee’s] December 24 letter identifying four publications that purportedly ‘support’ plaintiffs’ experts’ general causation opinions,” Sharko wrote. “This letter (along with plaintiffs’ latest round of repetitive discovery requests, served yesterday) appears calculated to delay a ruling on defendants Daubert motions, which have now been fully briefed and argued for five months.”  

"Daubert” refers to a landmark decision that established the legal standard by which courts now determine the admissibility of expert evidence. In a highly technical case such as those involving talc-cancer claims, which experts jurors hear from can go a long way in shaping their views of the facts of the case.  

All four of the publications that plaintiffs’ have requested be admitted examine the potential link between talc-based products and ovarian cancer. However, J&J’s lawyers argue that the plaintiffs still have failed to meet their burden of establishing causation between the plaintiffs’ use of J&J talc products and their cancer.  

“In short, although research continues into talc-related matters (much of it funded by plaintiffs’ counsel), none of it supports a finding of biological plausibility, let alone causation,” J&J attorney Sharko wrote. “Nor does this research demonstrate in any way that plaintiffs’ experts’ opinions were based on reliable methodologies.”  

Though this long-running back-and-forth over legal nuances may appear tedious and “in the weeds,” so to speak, it ultimately could have an enormous impact on the more than 16,000 cases that have been centralized in the still-growing MDL.  

If you or a loved one has developed ovarian cancer or mesothelioma after years of regular exposure to J&J talcum-powder products, contact TheLawFirm.com today for a free consultation!    

Sources:  

United States District Court District of New Jersey. (Accessed 4 January 2019). Civil Docket For Case#: 3:16-md-02738-FLW-LHG. In re: Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Products Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation. MDL No. 2738  

United States District Court District of New Jersey. (31 December 2019). Letter to Honorable Freda L. Wolfson From Susan M. Sharko. In re: Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Products Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation. MDL No. 2738

Talcum Powder Lawsuit News: St. Louis Jury Finds J&J Baby Powder Not Responsible For Woman’s Cancer

January 3, 2020
Author: Daniel Gala

A Missouri state court jury has found global multi-billion-dollar mega-conglomerate Johnson & Johnson not liable for a woman’s ovarian cancer, rejecting the plaintiff’s contention that decades of regular use of Johnson’s Baby Powder caused her to develop the disease.

Plaintiff Vickie Forrest, 56, a former registered nurse, said in her lawsuit that she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012 after approximately three decades of regularly applying the J&J talcum-powder product to her genital area as part of her feminine hygiene routine.

In July 2018, a St. Louis-based jury delivered the largest talc-cancer verdict to date, finding J&J and its talc supplier liable for the cancer of 22 women and ordering the companies to pay $4.69 billion in damages.

However, in the instant case, jurors declined to reach a similar conclusion, local CBS affiliate KMOV 4 reported December 20.

Attorneys for the plaintiff Forrest had argued during closing statements that J&J’s defenses had amounted to little more than a distraction and had failed to address the key points at issue.

“They said, ‘We sold product [sic] for a long time, a lot of people have used it,’” attorney Allen Smith, representing the plaintiff, told jurors, according to KMOV. “That has absolutely nothing to do with whether their product increases the risk of ovarian cancer. Nothing.”

For their part, despite mounting evidence that Johnson’s Baby Powder contains asbestos and is linked to both ovarian cancer and mesothelioma, attorneys for J&J sought to impugn the integrity of the plaintiff’s experts and legal representation, describing them as money-seeking liars.

“What you see here is essentially a kitchen sink approach to this case by the plaintiffs’ lawyers,” said Allison Brown, a lawyer representing J&J, per KMOV. “Asbestos, fibrous talc, arsenic, they have thrown it all in with nothing, no evidence, to support those claims. There was not one witness that came in here and told you how much of any of those substances they think Ms. Forrest was exposed to.”

“What I would suggest to you has gone on here over the past couple of weeks [at trial] has been an effort to misrepresent the science and misrepresent the facts and to distract you from the truth,” she continued. “All in the interest of winning a lawsuit for money.”

The jury’s verdict furthers what is now a four-case winning streak for Johnson & Johnson in talc-cancer cases. However, with evidence mounting outside the courtroom as to the presence of asbestos in J&J talc and talc’s association with various cancers, one might wonder whether the present string of victories ultimately will prove to be short-lived.

For example, on October 18, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the nation’s chief pharmaceutical and consumer-goods watchdog, announced that a lab it had hired to test Johnson’s Baby Powder had detected asbestos fibers in a 22-ounce bottle purchased online, leading J&J to voluntarily recall roughly 33,000 bottles.

Still, J&J remains adamant in denying the presence of asbestos in its talc or any connection between talc and cancer.

“This is the fourth consecutive verdict in favor of Johnson & Johnson in these cases and the eighth defense verdict this year,” J&J said in a statement. “The jury carefully considered the decades of independent clinical evidence, which shows Johnson’s Baby Powder is safe, does not contain asbestos, and does not cause cancer. We know that anyone suffering from cancer is searching for answers, which is why the science and facts on this topic are so important.”

With J&J publicly proclaiming the supposed importance of such “science and facts”, one might ask why, then, Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky declined the opportunity to participate recently in a congressional panel examining the potential health risks posed by his company’s flagship product.

“Mr. Gorsky refuses to speak to the Subcommittee under oath, yet he has not refrained from making multiple public comments on the topic,” read a statement from Representative Raja Khrishnamoorthi, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, as quoted by CNBC.

By refusing to give sworn testimony before the subcommittee, J&J CEO Gorsky might be trying to avoid a repeat of an incident in which, just weeks before the FDA announced its discovery of asbestos fibers in a bottle of Johnson’s Baby Powder, Gorsky had testified to the contrary in a sworn deposition.

“We unequivocally believe that our talc and baby powder does not contain asbestos,” Gorsky said under oath in early October.

Despite J&J’s touting its single-digit string of trial victories, its legal woes over talc-cancer claims—and plaintiffs’ efforts to seek justice for the alleged harms inflicted upon them by J&J’s wrongdoing—are far from over. More than 16,000 active talc-cancer cases remain against J&J in the United States alone, with the vast majority of them being federal cases centralized in multidistrict litigation (MDL) taking place in the District of New Jersey.

If you or a loved one has developed ovarian cancer or mesothelioma following years of regular exposure to Johnson’s Baby Powder, contact the experienced team of lawyers at TheLawFirm.com today for a free consultation with a licensed attorney!

Sources:

KMOV4. (20 December 2019). Jury rules for Johnson & Johnson in St. Louis woman’s lawsuit claiming baby powder caused cancer

United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (18 October 2019). Baby powder manufacturer voluntarily recalls products for asbestos. FDA News Release. Press Announcements

Legal Disclaimer: The information in this article is not intended to be used as medical information or diagnosis. The sources of the information presented in the article have been researched and are linked within the article. Please seek out medical advice from a licensed medical professional if you are experiencing a problem with any of the drugs or devices mentioned in this article. 

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