Order Permits Direct Filing of Talcum Powder Lawsuits in Federal Multidistrict Litigation

Published on February 14, 2017 by Laurie Villanueva

Plaintiffs pursuing federal talcum powder lawsuits are now able to file their claims directly in the U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey. According to an Order dated February 7th, direct filing is intended to promote judicial efficiency and eliminate delays associated with transferring claims from different federal courts throughout the country.

Nearly 100 cases are pending in the multidistrict litigation underway in the District of New Jersey, all of which were filed on behalf of women who allegedly developed ovarian cancer due to their long-term use of Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based powders for feminine hygiene purposes. The multidistrict litigation was established last October to allow all such federal claims to undergo coordinated pretrial proceedings, including discovery and motions practice.

Per the February 7th Order, talcum powder plaintiffs are to file their cases using the agreed-upon Master Short Form Complaint. The  Complaint is to name only a single plaintiff, except in cases that include “consortium plaintiff(s) as permitted by law and, in the event of a wrongful death action, the appropriate representative(s) of the Estate.”

Fourth Talcum Powder Trial Underway

Nationwide, Johnson & Johnson faces more than 2,000 talcum powder lawsuits involving its Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower franchises. Plaintiffs claim that the company was motivated by its bottom line to ignore research dating back to the 1970s that suggested the regular, repeated application of talc-based powders to the female genitals might increase a woman’s risk for ovarian cancer.

One of the largest talcum powder litigations is currently underway in Missouri’s 22nd Circuit Court in St. Louis, where a fourth trial was convened last week. The state ‘s first three  talcum powder trials concluded last year with multimillion dollar verdicts for plaintiffs. The current trial involves a 56-year-old woman who developed ovarian cancer following 36 years of genital talc use. During opening arguments, her attorney pointed out that condom manufacturers had stopped using talc in the 1990s because of its possible association with ovarian cancer. He also highlighted an internal Johnson & Johnson document warning that the company risked being compared to the cigarette industry if it ignored research linking talcum powder to the disease. Read More

“The love of money results in all manner of evil,” the plaintiffs’ attorney told jurors. “You’re gonna see it.”

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