At least a half-dozen trials involving Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products have been postponed in recent days, as the ongoing coronavirus pandemic continues to impact legal proceedings around the United States.
The postponements include Brower v Johnson & Johnson, which was set to go to trial in Georgia on April 8th, and Cadigan v. Johnson & Johnson, a case that was originally scheduled to begin on May 4th in Illinois. According to Law360.com, neither talcum powder lawsuit has been rescheduled.
Two Los Angeles trials — Lebrecht v. Johnson & Johnson and Zimmerman v. Johnson & Johnson – were scheduled to go before juries in March. But court records indicate that the Lebrecht talcum powder lawsuit has been suspended until June 22nd. A trial-setting conference in the Zimmerman case is scheduled to get underway on June 4th.
Johnson & Johnson is defending more than 17,000 lawsuits that allege long-term use of its talc-based powders, including Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower, contributed to the development of ovarian cancer or mesothelioma. While the company has won roughly half of the trials convened so far, the remaining juries have awarded plaintiffs multi-million-dollar verdicts.
Since December 2018, Johnson & Johnson has also reached confidential talcum powder settlements in a handful of cases that were already at trial or about to go to trial in Connecticut, New York, California and Oklahoma. But the company has repeatedly characterized those agreements as unique situations and has not indicated any desire to enter into a formal settlement program to resolve the massive litigation.
Johnson & Johnson continues to deny that its talcum powder products cause cancer or contain asbestos. But plaintiffs point to internal documents suggesting that, as early as the 1970s, company officials were aware of research linking the regular and repeated use of talc-based powders for feminine hygiene to the development of ovarian cancer.
They also assert that Johnson & Johnson’s own testing periodically detected traces of asbestos in the raw talc used to manufacture Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower, but chose not to warn the public in order to protect the company’s “caring” image.
Although talc is frequently mined in close proximity to asbestos deposits, Johnson & Johnson insists the cancer-causing substance is removed during processing. Yet last year, the company was forced to recall one lot of Baby Powder after the U.S. Food & Drug Administration found sub-traces of asbestos in a single bottle.