Johnson & Johnson Wins Summary Judgment in New Jersey Talcum Powder Lawsuits

Published on September 6, 2016 by Sandy Liebhard

Johnson & Johnson has convinced a New Jersey state court judge to toss two talcum powder lawsuits that had been scheduled to go to trial next month. In a decision handed down on September 2nd, Atlantic County Superior Court Judge Nelson Johnson found that the plaintiffs had not produced sufficient material evidence to prove that the company’s Baby Powder had caused their  ovarian cancer.

The two cases were part of a multicounty litigation that includes nearly 200 similar lawsuits, all of which were filed on behalf of women who allegedly developed ovarian cancer due to the long-term use of talc-based powders for feminine hygiene purposes. They accuse Johnson & Johnson of ignoring research linking talc powder to ovarian cancer, and of failing to warn consumers of this potential risk.

In its Motion for Summary Judgment, Johnson & Johnson maintained that the testimony provided by the plaintiffs’ expert witnesses suffered from “multiple deficiencies” and didn’t provide legitimate grounds for the suits. Judge Nelson agreed, writing that the experts’ review of the existing research suffered from “narrowness and shallowness,” and didn’t constitute reliable evidence that talc powder could cause ovarian cancer.

New Jersey Ruling Won’t Affect Other Talc Powder Litigations

Plaintiffs’ attorneys told Bloomberg News that they plan to appeal the decision, and pointed out that judges in other states have found that there are sufficient links between talc and ovarian cancer to allow similar cases to proceed to trial.

Johnson & Johnson is currently facing more than 1,200 talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits in courts throughout the country. However, Judge Nelson’s ruling only impacts the cases pending in New Jersey Superior Court. Most of the ovarian cancer claims involving the company’s talc powders have been filed in Missouri’s St. Louis Circuit Court, where two trials concluded earlier this year. Both of those cases resulted in multimillion verdicts on behalf of plaintiffs.

Dozens of additional talcum powder claims have been filed in federal courts around the U.S. Plaintiffs recently petitioned the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to centralize those cases in a single U.S. District Court for the purposes of coordinated pretrial proceedings. The Panel will hear oral arguments on the matter on September 29th.

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