The federal talcum powder litigation saw significant growth over the last several months, as more than 1,900 plaintiffs opted to move their ovarian cancer lawsuits to the centralized proceeding currently underway in New Jersey.
The litigation’s December 5th Status Report indicates 3,659 talcum powder lawsuits filed on behalf of 4,002 plaintiffs are now pending against Johnson & Johnson and Imery’s Talc America in the U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey. That’s a notable increase from September 29th, when 2,688 plaintiffs had filed 1,073 cases.
According to Bloomberg.com, the large shift in filings from various state courts to the federal litigation is reflective of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in in Bristol-Myers Squibb v. Superior Court of California. The decision requires plaintiffs to file suit in jurisdictions where defendants are headquartered or where their injuries are alleged to have occurred. Johnson & Johnson is based in New Jersey.
Overall, Johnson & Johnson faces more than 5,500 talcum powder lawsuits, all of which were filed on behalf of women who allegedly developed ovarian cancer due to their long-term use of the company’s Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower products for feminine hygiene purposes. Plaintiffs cite a number of studies dating to the 1970s that suggest such a link, as well as internal Johnson & Johnson documents which they claim show that the company was aware of this research, yet chose not to warn consumers in order to protect the profits generated by its popular talc-based powders.
Despite the movement of some talcum powder lawsuits to federal court, Johnson & Johnson still faces a significant number of state court claims in Missouri, New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania.
Since early 2015, plaintiffs in several high-profile state talcum powder trials have been awarded multi-million dollar judgments ranging from $55 million to $417 million. Recently, however, a judge in California overturned the $417 million verdict because of accusations involving juror misconduct and other issues.
A $72 million verdict awarded to an out-of-state plaintiff in Missouri’s talcum powder litigation was also tossed to comply with new standards set by the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Bristol-Myers Squibb v. Superior Court of California. Just last month, however, a $110 million verdict awarded to another out-state-plaintiff was upheld, after the trial court concluded that jurisdiction was appropriate because Johnson & Johnson and Imery’s had used a Missouri-based company to label, package and distribute their talc products.