The federal litigation that currently houses dozens of Johnson & Johnson talcum powder lawsuits has begun to move forward. A Case Management Order recently issued by the U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey, indicates that a “Science Day” will be convened next month, at which time the parties will have an opportunity bring the Court up to speed on the scientific and medical issues relevant to the litigation.
At least 60 talcum powder cases are currently pending in the District of New Jersey, all of which were filed on behalf of women who allegedly developed ovarian cancer due to the long-term use of the company’s Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower products for feminine hygiene. The multidistrict litigation was established in October to allow all such federal claims to undergo coordinated pretrial proceedings. Science Days are frequently convened in large, complex litigations, and typically involve presentations deemed “off-the-record,” and that are not subject to cross examination.
According to the December 6th Case Management Order, the federal talcum powder litigation will hold Science Day on January 23, 2017, at 9:30 p.m. It will be immediately followed by the litigation’s regular monthly Status Conference.
Johnson & Johnson faces more than 2,000 lawsuits in U.S. courts, all of which accuse the company of failing to warn consumers that the long-term, genital application of its Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower products could contribute to the development of ovarian cancer. Plaintiffs cite numerous studies going back to the 1970s that point to a possible link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer, and assert Johnson & Johnson was aware of this evidence for decades. Yet the company opted not to include warnings on its talc products due to a desire to protect sales of its Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower franchises.
In addition to the federal proceeding, centralized talcum powder litigations are underway in a number of state courts, including Missouri, New Jersey and California. Earlier this year, three Missouri trials ended in plaintiffs’ victories, with Johnson & Johnson ordered to pay damages amounting to $72 million, $55 million, and $70 million.