Product Liability

Johnson & Johnson continues to lose legal battles in growing talcum powder lawsuit

July 1, 2020

Johnson & Johnson remove talcum powder from all stores in the U.S. and Canada amidst continued losses in the growing litigation that claims their talcum powder is linked to ovarian cancer and mesothelioma.

Over the past few months, Johnson and Johnson has lost 3 major legal battles in the ongoing litigation that claims J&J’s talcum powder was contaminated by asbestos and has caused ovarian cancer to develop in some of its consumers. With more than 19,000 lawsuits already filed against J&J, there is a lot at stake for the value and image of the “family” oriented brand. While there is still a long road of litigation ahead, these three major victories for the plaintiffs give us some insight and indication of how these cases may play out.

The first of these legal victories came from U.S. District Judge Freda Wolfson, the judge overseeing the talcum powder Multidistrict Litigation (MDL), who partially denied J&J’s request to have plaintiffs’ expert testimony precluded from the trials. The defense claimed that the expert testimony did not present scientifically sound evidence and should not be allowed to be admitted as evidence. While Judge Wolfson did set some parameters for what the expert testimony could include, Plaintiff experts will be allowed to testify as to the mechanism by which talcum powder can lead to ovarian cancer as well as the increased risk of ovarian cancer found in several studies.

Only a few weeks after Judge Wolfson’s ruling, J&J announced that they would be removing all talcum powder products from stores in the U.S. and Canada. As one of their most well-known products, removing talcum powder from shelves was a major decision for J&J. But even after this announcement, J&J stated that they still believe in the “safety of our product.” Adding that they “will continue to vigorously defend the product, its safety, and the unfounded allegations against it and the company in the courtroom.”  

Ted Meadows, an attorney representing several plaintiffs suing J&J, responded saying, “by removing Johnson’s baby powder from the market, J&J did today what they should have done decades ago. Now J&J should accept responsibility for the thousands of women who are suffering or who have died as a result of ovarian cancer caused by their talcum powder products.”

Following both of these defeats came another crushing blow to J&J when a Missouri appeals court upheld a ruling that found J&J liable for damages suffered by a group of ovarian cancer victims in Missouri. Although the ruling was sustained, the damages were reduced from $4.7 billion to $2.12 billion after dismissing some of the claims brought by plaintiffs who were not Missouri residents.

After the ruling, the court stated that the plaintiffs "showed clear and convincing evidence defendants engaged in conduct that was outrageous because of evil motive or reckless indifference.” With such a bold assertion by the court, on the heels of two other major defeats, the future looks bleak for J&J as the 19,000+ cases move forward.

Just as they did previously, J&J maintained that they “continue to believe this was a fundamentally flawed trial, grounded in a faulty presentation of the facts,” a spokeswoman for Johnson & Johnson said. “We remain confident that our talc is safe, asbestos-free, and does not cause cancer.”

Unfortunately for J&J, maintaining belief in the safety of your product does not mean your product is indeed safe. So far, every indication seems to imply that J&J is failing to prove that their product is completely safe and cannot be linked to ovarian cancer. Ultimately, there is still a lot to learn and discover as the MDL moves forward but these early indications favor the thousands of plaintiffs that are still waiting for their day in court.

If you, like thousands of other women, have used talcum powder regularly and subsequently developed ovarian cancer or mesothelioma, you may be eligible for compensation without ever going to court. To see if you are eligible, you can fill out our free case review and a legal representative will contact you to review your case. We don’t get paid unless you do.

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