Judge Rules 15,000 Talc Lawsuits Can Go to Trial

U.S. District Judge Freda Wolfson granted more than 15,000 women a significant victory Monday, April 27, 2020. In a Daubert hearing, Wolfson ruled that expert testimony and evidence that Johnson & Johnson talcum powder causes cancer is admissible in court and can be presented to juries.

The ruling was made in plaintiffs’ favor on all major issues, including decisions that will allow juries to hear evidence that asbestos has been found in Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder and Shower to Shower, and that talc use in the vaginal area is linked to ovarian cancer.

The argument filed by Johnson & Johnson was essentially their last ditch effort to avoid accountability, and Judge Wolfson’s ruling marks the death knell in their battle to evade responsibility for decades of putting profits before the health and wellbeing of women across the globe.

What is a Daubert Ruling?

In recent years, there have been a series of bellwether trials heard by juries in a handful of states. Researchers, physicians, and other experts have testified that talcum powder often contains asbestos, and that both asbestos and talcum powder use have been linked to ovarian cancer. Until now, each state has separately decided what expert testimony it will allow juries to hear.

Federal standards for allowing expert testimony tend to be more stringent. Attorneys representing Johnson & Johnson hoped to quash the efforts of thousands of plaintiffs who are seeking justice in court by limiting the expert testimony that can be presented to juries. This was done through what is called a Daubert hearing, which is a challenge as to whether or not expert testimony meets federal standards of admissibility.

Judge Wolfson agreed that the evidence against Johnson & Johnson that vaginal use of talcum powder is strongly linked to ovarian cancer, and that asbestos is frequently found in talc does meet those standards.

What’s Next in Talc Litigation?

Now that Judge Wolfson has granted our attorneys permission to bring these important expert witnesses to trial before juries, we will be moving forward with fact-specific discovery and begin to select additional cases for bellwether trials.

As with all multidistrict litigation (MDL) cases, these trials will be representative of hundreds or thousands of additional cases, and will likely pressure Johnson & Johnson to negotiate a settlement. OnderLaw attorneys will not settle unless Johnson & Johnson agrees to terms we believe are fair and just to our clients. As always, we will continue to fight for you.

Lawsuits Making a Difference

Women who have stepped forward with their ovarian cancer stories and who have been willing to stand up to Johnson & Johnson are making a positive difference, not only for themselves, but for other women.

In late 2019, after the FDA discovered asbestos in its own testing of Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder, the company recalled the product. Though Johnson & Johnson spokespersons have adamantly denied validity of the FDA tests, a Reuters investigation revealed evidence that the company has, for decades, been aware of asbestos contamination in its talc products.

In February 2020, recognizing the need to oversee the industry beyond allowing companies like Johnson & Johnson to self-regulate its products, the FDA held its second hearing on classification and oversight of talc-based products.

In the meantime, Johnson & Johnson executives continue to be under the scrutiny of the United States Department of Justice, potentially facing criminal charges for their role in hiding the fact that they were putting women at risk for cancer.

We will continue to keep you updated as additional developments arise.