J&J Talcum Powder Cancer Trial Update: California State Court Jury Hears from Plaintiff Eva Echeverria’s Epidemiology Expert

“Plaintiff Eva Evecherria’s Case Selected For First Trial Due to Onset of End Stage Terminal Ovarian Cancer”

Is Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder Dangerous?

Plaintiff Eva Echeverria, whose case was selected for California’s bellwether trial, due to her declining health caused by ovarian cancer, continued to present evidence last week in Los Angeles Superior Court. (see Eva Echeverria vs J&J Talc Trial CA State Court ), and there are additional cases against J&J in Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Cases, No. JCCP4872.

On Friday, jurors heard from a Canadian epidemiology expert who was called to offer his opinions on studies linking talc-based powders to ovarian cancer.

Among other things, Jack Siemiatycki, an epidemiologist with the University of Montreal and McGill University, discussed his contributions to the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s 2006 monograph that deemed talc a possible human carcinogen. According to Law360.com, he also testified that his stance has changed since then, as he now thinks that it is more likely than not that talc can cause ovarian cancer.

Under cross examination, Siemiatycki acknowledged that he had not reviewed the plaintiff’s specific case, as his testimony was only intended to address the general link between use of talcum powder and ovarian cancer .

Johnson & Johnson Concerns Are Corporate Image Over Human Life

The talcum powder lawsuit selected for the California trial was filed on behalf of Ms. Echeverria, a 63-year-old woman who allegedly made Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based powders a regular part of her daily feminine hygiene routine in the decades prior to her ovarian cancer diagnosis. Like other plaintiffs around the country, she claims that tiny particles of talc entered her vagina and migrated to her ovaries, resulting in the type of inflammation that encourages the growth of ovarian cancer cells.

During opening statements earlier in the week, Escheverria’s attorney asserted that Johnson & Johnson had known of the alleged link between talc and ovarian cancer for decades, but decided to withhold warnings from the public to protect its image.

“It’s the safe and gentle corporate image of a mother and baby that the defendants are placing over human life, in this case,” he told the jury.

Delaware State Court Plaintiffs Request Coordination

10 plaintiffs who filed talcum powder lawsuits in Delaware Superior Court are seeing coordination of all ovarian cancer cases involving Johnson & Johnson products. In addition to Johnson & Johnson, Imerys Talc America Inc., and the Personal Care Products Council are named as defendants.

Talcum Powder Ovarian Cancer Cases Filed in Canada

In May 2016, a class action lawsuit was filed in Toronto, Ontario on behalf of Canadian women who allegedly developed ovarian cancer due to their long-term use of Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder for feminine hygiene. Plaintiffs assert that the company should have warned consumers decades ago about the alleged link between talc powder and ovarian cancer, and that doing so would have easily prevented many, many cases of the disease.

Missouri Talcum Powder Plaintiff Verdicts

Johnson & Johnson has been named a defendant in more than 3,000 talcum powder claims in state and federal courts throughout the country. In addition to California, similar litigation is currently underway in Missouri, New Jersey and Delaware state courts, as well as New Jersey Federal Court.

The Missouri litigation, has already resulted in 6 talcum powder trials, with plaintiffs winning 4, one defense verdict and the most recent June 2017 trial declared a mistrial due to a US Supreme Court ruling. The first concluded in February 2016, when the family of an Alabama woman who died of the disease was awarded $72 million ($10 million compensatory and $62 million punitive).

Three months later, Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $55 million ($5 million compensatory, $50 million punitive) to a South Dakota ovarian cancer victim.

The following October, another Missouri jury awarded $70 million, including $2.5 million in compensatory damages and $67.5 million in punitive damages, to a third plaintiff.

Missouri’s fourth talcum powder trial concluded in March 2017, with a win for Johnson & Johnson. In May, however, the company was hit with its largest talcum powder verdict thus far, when another Missouri jury awarded more than $100 million in compensatory and punitive damages to the plaintiff in the state’s fifth trial. The final trial in June, where Shawn Blaes and other non-Missouri plaintiffs were in mid-trial when Judge Burlison declared a mistrial just hours after the US Supreme Court ruled on the state versus federal court jurisdictional issue in Bristol-Myers vs. California Supreme Court.

How will the Bristol-Myers “California-Plavix” Ruling Affect Missouri and Other State Court J&J Talcum Powder Cases?

On June 19, 2017 in the most recent St. Louis courtroom trial, Estate of Shawn Blaes, et al vs. Johnson & Johnson Case No. 1422-CC09326-01, over Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder, trial counsel received notice of a US Supreme Court decision that day and were changing trial strategy instantly, and scrambling to determine if the Supreme Court decision handed down that morning doomed their case. The ruling was from a California multi-plaintiff drug case, Bristol Myers-Plavix Litigation JCCP Case No. 4748 (San Francisco County Superior Court) where Bristol-Myers had appealed the August 29, 2016 California Supreme Court decision, where the California court ruled that “foreign resident plaintiffs were able to remain parties to the Plavix litigation in California State Court” see California Court Opinion Jurisdiction of Non-Resident Plavix Plaintiffs 8.29.2016. Bristol-Myers immediately appealed to the US Supreme Court, where appeal arguments were heard on April 24, 2017, see BMSQ California Plavix SCOTUS Appeal Transcript , which left non-resident plaintiffs in state court cases across the country in limbo, pending the ruling.  On June 19th the US Supreme Court in an 8-1 ruling clarified the non-resident question for many plaintiffs, including the three plaintiffs in the pending trial in front of Judge Rex Burlison, who immediately declared a mistrial. The Blaes trial has been reset for October 2017, pending motions and briefings regarding the Plavix ruling and how it applies to the trial.

There are already dismissals in federal and state court cases of non-resident plaintiffs in non-talc lawsuits, so what will the “California-Plavix” ruling do to the thousands of other talc cases pending across the country? That question remains to be answered.


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