Johnson & Johnson and other talcum powder lawsuit plaintiffs have voiced their support for the centralization of all federally-filed ovarian cancer claims involving Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower talc-based products. However, responses filed with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) last week indicate that they disagree with plaintiffs as to an appropriate venue for the proceeding.
Court records show that Johnson & Johnson is facing more than 1,200 product liability claims that have been filed on behalf of women who claim that Shower-to-Shower and Baby Powder contributed to the development of their ovarian cancer. While the majority of talcum powder lawsuits are pending in Missouri and New Jersey state courts, at least 11 cases have been filed in various federal courts. In addition to Johnson & Johnson, Imery’s Talc America and the Personal Care Products Council are named as defendants in some of the federal actions.
Last month, plaintiffs filed a Motion with the JPML seeking centralization of the federal talcum powder docket in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Illinois, for the purposes of coordinated pretrial proceeding. The Motion asserted, among other things, that Illinois was the most convenient locale, as it “would permit convenient travel for the parties and counsel as compared to travel to the East or West Coast.”
In their responses to the JPML, Johnson & Johnson and other defendants agreed that the ceation of a multidistrict litigation was appropriate. However, they have proposed that the U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey, or the U.S. District Court, Western District of Oklahoma, be selected as the venue for the proceeding. Among other things, Johnson & Johnson notes that the District of New Jersey already houses the most advanced federal talc powder lawsuit, and points out that discovery – including depositions – is already moving forward in that case. The company also contends that New Jersey is the most convenient locale, as its operations are headquartered in that state.
In proposing the Wester District of Oklahoma as a possible venue, Johnson & Johnson notes that at least one talcum powder lawsuit is already pending in that jurisdiction, and asserts that the District has a present case load that would enable it to facilitate the multidistrict litigation. The company also points out that Oklahoma City has a large airport with nonstop air service from many cities around the country, and argues that it would be just as geographically convenient as the Southern District of Illinois.