St. Louis Talcum Powder Trial Update
Posted on Tuesday, December 31st, 2019
Bellwether talc trial decided in St. Louis
Tuesday, December 31, 2019 – Friday, Dec. 20, a two-week case involving a St. Louis woman who used Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder for decades and developed a rare form of ovarian cancer was decided in favor of Johnson & Johnson.
Our team at OnderLaw, LLC followed this bellwether case closely and acted as local counsel to support attorneys from Ashcraft & Gerel in Washington D.C., Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles in Montgomery, AL, and The Smith Law Firm in Ridgeland, MS.
Though we are disappointed in the verdict, it is important to note that the details of this case — in particular, the rare subtype of cancer that the plaintiff suffered and the fact that the plaintiff had been diagnosed with endometriosis, which has been associated with the plaintiff’s rare histologic subtype of ovarian cancer — do not represent the vast majority of ovarian cancer cases that have yet to go to trial against Johnson & Johnson.
A Test for Clear Cell Ovarian Cancer
The December 2019 St. Louis trial involved plaintiff Vickie Forrest, 56, a home health nurse who used Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder for nearly 30 years. She was diagnosed with endometriosis prior to her 2012 diagnosis of clear cell ovarian cancer, the most rare subtype of epithelial ovarian cancer.
While there is a growing mountain of scientific evidence linking ovarian cancer to talc use, clear cell is such a small subtype of ovarian cancer that research is extremely limited. At the same time, there are current studies that link endometriosis with increased risk of clear cell ovarian cancer. Meeting the burden of proof in this case was therefore much more difficult, as opposed to the four other Johnson & Johnson trials OnderLaw, LLC has represented and won.
In the end, expert witnesses from both sides presented conflicting evidence about endometriosis and clear cell ovarian cancer, as well as other facts specific to Ms. Forrest’s case, creating enough doubt for the jury that they did not find Johnson & Johnson responsible by a vote of 9 to 3.
What is a Bellwether Trial?
Ms. Forrest’s case is what is considered a bellwether trial. These trials test the waters, so to speak, to see how courts and juries will decide cases with similar facts.
In litigation against Johnson & Johnson talc, OnderLaw, LLC has now won 2 out of 2 trials selected as “plaintiff trial picks,” as well as 2 out of 3 trials selected as “defense picks” by Johnson & Johnson.
We continue to move forward in litigation against Johnson & Johnson and will keep you posted as matters progress.