By Sandy A. Liebhard, Bernstein Liebhard LLP, New York.
A talcum powder lawsuit plaintiff has filed a motion with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to centralize all federal ovarian cancer claims in a single court for the purposes of coordinated pretrial proceedings.
According to a Motion for Transfer filed with the Panel on July 15, the plaintiff has suggested the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Illinois, as the most appropriate venue for the proposed multidistrict litigation. (Case Pending No. 70).
This court is the location of MDL 2385-Pradaxa (Dabigatran Etexilate) Products Liability Litigation in East St Louis, IL.
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Court records show that at least 11 product liability claims involving talcum powder and ovarian cancer have already been filed in 10 federal jurisdictions. Among other things, the motion points out that the current plaintiffs reside in several different states, and it asserts that the Southern District of Illinois “would permit convenient travel for the parties and counsel as compared to travel to the East or West Coast.”
More than 1,200 talcum powder lawsuits have been filed against Johnson & Johnson nationwide, with litigation already underway in St. Louis, Missouri and New Jersey Superior Court. The federal docket also has the potential to be large, and would likely benefit from centralization, as coordinated pretrial proceedings would eliminate duplicative discovery and inconsistent court rulings.
Talcum Powder Ovarian Cancer Litigation
All the talcum powder lawsuits currently pending in federal courts similarly allege that regular, repeated application of Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower products to the genitals can increase a woman’s risk for ovarian cancer.
The complaints charge that talc particles can make their way into the vagina and migrate to the ovaries when used in this way. Over time, the accumulating talc can result in the type of inflammation that promotes the growth of cancer cells. While a number of studies published since the 1970s have suggested such a link, plaintiffs claim that Johnson & Johnson has failed to take any steps to warn women of this possible risk.
In April, a St. Louis jury awarded $55 million in compensatory and punitive damages to an ovarian cancer victim who used Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based powders for nearly 40 years as part of her feminine hygiene routine. In February, another Missouri trial ended with an award of $72 million for the family of a woman who died from the disease after using the company’s talc products for more than 30 years. (Case No. 1422-CC09012-01)
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