California Talcum Powder Lawsuits May be Centralized in Coordinated Docket

Published on July 15, 2016 by Sandy Liebhard

Talcum powder lawsuits pending in California Superior Court could soon be consolidated in a coordinated docket. According to court records, a hearing on the matter will be convened on July 29th in Los Angeles.

A Petition seeking coordination of the state’s growing talcum powder litigation was submitted to the Judicial Council of California (JCC) on May24th. The document listed four cases that had been filed on behalf of women who allegedly developed ovarian cancer due to their use of Johnson & Johnson talc-based powders. The petition asked that the centralized docket be transferred to Los Angeles Superior Court, where three of those cases are pending.

Among other things, the petition points out that all four talcum powder lawsuits involve the same defendants and allege identical or virtually identical facts and legal theories. The petition asserts that coordination in a centralized docket will further of the convenience of the parties, court and witnesses; avoid duplicative discovery and inconsistent court rulings; and increase the possibility of settlement.

Since the filing of the Petition, additional talcum powder ovarian cancer claims have been filed in California. On June 28th, a Notice of Potential Add-On Actions was entered with the JCC on behalf of more than a dozen plaintiffs.

Nationwide Talcum Powder Litigation

Johnson & Johnson is currently named a defendant in more than 1,200 product liability claims involving ovarian cancer and its talc-based powders, including Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower. In addition to the cases pending in California, similar lawsuits are also undergoing coordinated proceedings in Missouri and New Jersey state courts.

Plaintiffs who have filed ovarian cancer cases against Johnson & Johnson allege that since the 1970s, various studies have suggested that the regular and repeated use of talc-based powders for genital hygiene purposes could increase a woman’s risk for ovarian cancer. Plaintiffs further allege that Johnson & Johnson failed to take any steps to warn consumers of this risk in order to preserve the profits derived from its talcum powder products.

In April, a jury in St. Louis, Missouri, awarded $55 million in compensatory and punitive damages to an ovarian cancer victim who used Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and other talc-based powders for nearly 40 years as part of her feminine hygiene routine. In February, another St. Louis jury ordered the company to pay $72 million in compensatory and punitive damages to the family of a woman who died from ovarian cancer.

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