Closing Arguments Expected Tomorrow in Fourth Talcum Powder Trial

Published on March 2, 2017 by Sandy Liebhard

Missouri’s fourth talcum powder trial is nearing its end, with the parties expected to present their closing arguments tomorrow. The high-stakes trial opened on February 9th in the Missouri 22nd Judicial Circuit Court for St. Louis City, and is being closely watched by observers interested to see if Johnson & Johnson can end a losing streak that has already produced three multi-million dollar verdicts for talcum powder plaintiffs.

More than 1,000 talcum powder lawsuits are pending in Missouri, all of which were filed on behalf of women who allegedly developed ovarian cancer due to the long-term genital application of Johnson & Johnson talc-based powders. The case currently at trial was filed on behalf of a 56-year-old woman who had made the company’s products a daily part of her feminine hygiene routine for more than 36 years prior to her diagnose.

During opening statements last month, the Plaintiff’s attorney asserted that Johnson & Johnson’s “love of money” led it to ignore a growing body of research linking the genital application of talcum powder to an increased risk of ovarian cancer. She and others suing the company cite numerous studies published since the 1970s that suggest the regular, repeated application of talc-based powders to the female genitals increases a woman’s risk for ovarian cancer.

Johnson & Johnson denies the allegations, and asserts that there is no scientific evidence to support claims that genital talc use contributes to the development of the disease.

This is the fourth talcum powder trial convened in the Missouri litigation over the past year. Last October, the jury hearing evidence in the state’s third trial awarded $70 million in compensatory and punitive damage to an ovarian cancer victim who had used Baby Powder on a daily basis for more than 40 years. Two other Missouri trials concluded last year, resulting in awards of $72 million and $55 million for the plaintiffs involved in those cases. Johnson & Johnson is appealing all three verdicts.

More than 3,100 Talcum Powder Cases Pending

According to its latest Annual Report, Johnson & Johnson faces more than 3,100 ovarian cancer lawsuits involving its talcum powder products.  On the state level, talcum powder litigations are underway in New Jersey’s Atlantic Superior Court and Los Angeles Superior Court in California. Earlier this month, the judge overseeing the California talcum powder litigation scheduled its first trial for July 3, 2017.

A federal multidistrict litigation established last year in the U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey, now includes more than 130 talcum powder lawsuits.

In its Annual Report, Johnson & Johnson acknowledged that the litigation would likely grow, and disclosed that it had established an accrual for defense costs associated with the matter.  “Changes to this accrual may be required in the future as additional information becomes available,” the Company said.

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