Product Liability Update:
A St. Louis jury awarded a California woman more than $70 million after determining that J&J's talcum powder produced had caused her to suffer from ovarian cancer. Currently, there are approximately 1,700 lawsuits pending against Johnson & Johnson alleging that Johnson's Baby Powder and other products can cause ovarian and uterine cancer. Talc powder is created from crushing talc, a soft mineral, into a white powder - it is widely used for personal hygiene to absorb moisture.
Last month, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation centralized several such lawsuits in New Jersey Federal Court before United States District Judge Freda L. Wolfson. In addition to the multi-district litigation cases, there are two potential class actions pending. Class action case are filed by one or a group of plaintiffs on behalf of an entire class of similarly situated individuals, whereas multi-district litigation involves the grouping together of many individual cases for the purposes of judicial economy and efficiency.
According to the plaintiff's lawyer, Johnson & Johnson was long aware of studies showing that the use of talc powder correlated with an increased risk of ovarian cancer. According to news reports, jurors deliberated for three hours before rendering the impressive verdict. Some jurors felt that Johnson & Johnson did not provide adequate warning labels giving notice of the risks associated with the use of talc powder.
This is the third such product liability verdict against Johnson & Johnson: two prior verdicts earlier this year ended in jury verdicts totaling $127 million. However, a New Jersey state court dismissed two other lawsuits, finding insufficient scientific link between the use of talc powder and ovarian cancer.