Parties to New Jersey Talcum Powder Lawsuit Reach Agreement on Tissue Testing

Published on July 28, 2016 by Sandy Liebhard

Hundreds of talcum powder lawsuits filed against Johnson & Johnson continue to move forward in courts around the country. Earlier this month, the parties to a case pending in New Jersey federal court indicated that they had been able to reach an agreement on non-destructive tissue block testing, and are now awaiting a response from Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital regarding the production of materials needed for that testing.

According to, the case (Chakalos v. Johnson & Johnson, et al., No. 14-07079) was filed in November 2014 on behalf of an ovarian cancer victim who had a long history of using Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based powders for feminine hygiene purposes. The complaint, which was filed by her husband, alleges that the woman suffered a “premature death”  as a direct and proximate result of the unreasonably dangerous and defective nature of talcum powder.

According to the lawsuit, the Decedent had undergone chemotherapy and other treatments at Memorial Sloan Kettering. In a letter dated July 14th, the Plaintiff indicated that a subpoena had been served on the hospital requesting the production of all pathology, cytopathology, original cytopathology and pathology slides,  and all tissue and cytology blocks from those procedures for non-destructive testing. The letter also noted  the parties’ belief that the hospital is working towards the release of those materials.

“Should Memorial Sloan indicate that they are unable to comply with the subpoena, the Parties will confer to decide upon the required motion practice,” the letter stated. “Otherwise, the parties will submit any updated status to the Court in 14 days regarding the anticipated release of the pathology material and time frame needed for an expert to conduct non-destructive testing on the same.”

Nationwide Talcum Powder Litigation

Court records indicate that more than 1,200 talcum powder ovarian cancer claims have been filed against Johnson & Johnson in state and federal courts around the country. According to a Motion for Transfer submitted to the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation  earlier this month, certain plaintiffs are seeking the centralization of all federally-filed talcum powder cases involving the company’s products. The Motion noted that at least 11 lawsuits were already pending against Johnson & Johnson in 10 federal jurisdictions, and asserted that the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Illinois, would serve as an appropriate venue for the proposed multidistrict litigation.

Two centralized litigations have already been established for talcum powder lawsuits filed in Missouri and New Jersey state courts. In April, a jury in St. Louis ,awarded $55 million in compensatory and punitive damages to an ovarian cancer victim who used Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based powders for nearly 40 years as part of her feminine hygiene routine. In February, another Missouri jury ordered the company to pay a total of $72 million to the family of a woman who died from ovarian cancer following decades of genital talcum powder use.

The multicounty litigation currently underway in New Jersey’s Atlantic County Superior Court includes more than 180 cases filed against Johnson & Johnson.

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