Federal lawsuits involving the alleged link between Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products and ovarian cancer have been consolidated in the U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey. The newly-centralized docket was established on October 4th by the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML), which found that consolidation will serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses and promote the just and efficient conduct of the talcum powder litigation.
The JPML’s October 4th Order initially transfers 11 actions filed in 10 federal jurisdictions to the new proceeding. At least 43 additional talcum powder lawsuits pending in 23 districts could be eligible for transfer, as will any federal cases filed against Johnson & Johnson in the future. The multidistrict litigation will allow these claims, as well as any future federal filings, to undergo coordinated pretrial proceedings, thereby avoiding duplicative discovery and inconsistent rulings from various courts.
The federal talcum powder litigation will be overseen by the Honorable Freda L. Wolfson. The JPML deemed the District of New Jersey an appropriate venue due to its proximity to Johnson & Johnson’s headquarters, as well as the large number of state court actions pending in New Jersey and other jurisdictions on the East Coast of the U.S.
Court records show that Johnson & Johnson is facing more than 1,800 product liability claims that have been filed on behalf of women who allegedly developed ovarian cancer due to their long-term use of Shower-to-Shower and Baby Powder for feminine hygiene purposes. In addition to the new federal litigation, hundreds of similar lawsuits are pending in Missouri and New Jersey state courts.
In February, a jury in St. Louis, Missouri ordered the company to pay $72 million in compensatory and punitive damages to the family of a woman who died from the disease last year. Two month slater, a second St. Louis jury awarded $55 million in damages to another talcum powder plaintiff who had filed suit against Johnson & Johnson. A third Missouri trial is currently underway.