Johnson & Johnson Accused of Concealing Alleged Mesothelioma Risk, as First New Jersey Talcum Powder Lawsuit Heads to Trial

Published on January 19, 2018 by Laurie Villanueva

New Jersey convened its first talcum powder trial earlier this month, opening a new front in the litigation involving the alleged link between Johnson & Johnson’s talc-powders and cancer.

The talcum powder lawsuit, which is pending in Middlesex Superior Court, alleges that Johnson & Johnson knew for decades that the talc used to manufacture its Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower products contained mesothelioma-causing asbestos, but failed to warn consumers in order to protect the products’ sales. (Docket Number MID-L-7385-16)

Johnson & Johnson denies that its talc-based powders ever contained asbestos and asserts that any testing that detected the deadly substance was faulty.

Jury selection for the case began on January 8th. Opening statements were scheduled for January 16th.

Talcum Powder Mesothelioma Litigation

In November, a California jury found for Johnson & Johnson in another case involving talcum powder and mesothelioma.

Colgate-Palmolive is facing around 170 similar talcum powder lawsuits in courts around the country. In 2015, the company was ordered to pay $13 million in a California mesothelioma lawsuit involving Cashmere Bouquet.

Late last year, the company agreed to settle another Cashmere Bouquet lawsuit for an undisclosed amount. The mesothelioma settlement allowed the company to avoid going to trial in New Jersey Superior Court.

Johnson & Johnson Ovarian Cancer Litigation

Johnson & Johnson also faces more than 5,500 talcum powder lawsuits filed on behalf of women who allegedly developed ovarian cancer due to their long-term use of the company’s talc-based powders for feminine hygiene purposes.

Among other things, plaintiffs claim that the consumer healthcare product’s company was aware of research dating back to the 1970s that linked the regular and repeated application of talc to the female genitals to an increased risk of ovarian cancer. They also claim that Johnson & Johnson failed to issue any warnings in order to protect the profits derived from its Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower franchises.

Since February 2015, plaintiffs in several high-profile talcum powder ovarian cancer 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.

In November, 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.

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