The next trial begins Feb. 6 in St. Louis against Johnson & Johnson for failing to warn the public about the dangers that its talcum powder products can lead to ovarian cancer.
The cases of more than 60 women and family members are set to start in the 22nd Circuit Court in St. Louis, where juries have returned verdicts of $55 million, $70 million and $72 million.
The Missouri Court of Appeals denied J&J’s bid to delay the upcoming trials on the grounds that the court didn’t have jurisdiction, because most of the 1,350 plaintiffs are not Missouri residents. Chief Judge Angela T. Quigless had originally denied J&J’s motion in January.
“Anyone has the constitutional right to bring a case in any jurisdiction,” says Ted Meadows, attorney for the plaintiffs and principal at the Beasley Allen Law Firm in Montgomery, Alabama. “We’ve chosen St. Louis to file several talc-related claims because it’s a central location that makes sense for these women, many of whom are very ill and deserve to have their claims heard fairly, quickly and efficiently.”
The lawsuits claim that many scientific studies have shown the link between ovarian cancer and the regular use of talc-containing products manufactured and marketed by J&J, including Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower. Attorneys for the plaintiffs allege that the company has known about the dangers of talcum powder for decades, but has attempted to suppress and dismiss those studies while refusing to provide warning labels on its talc-containing products.
“These cases are important as they show the J&J’s historical disregard of scientific and medical research data to be shown to the public,” says said Mark A. York, Senior Consultant for Mass Tort Nexus. “They reveal how J&J chose completely disregarded its own experts and continues to market and profit from talc products that were known by the most senior J&J executives to cause significant health problems for consumers who trusted the company.”
“The lawsuits also shows that J&J went to extraordinary lengths to prevent adverse talc data to be released and conspired with other parties to conceal and manipulate public opinion, influence medical and scientific professionals as well as defer or influence publication of adverse data in medical journals,” York added.
In the U.S., ovarian cancer affects about 24,000 women a year and is the fifth-leading cause of cancer death for women. It is estimated that 14,000 women die from talc-related ovarian cancer each year. One medical expert calculates that using talcum powder leads to nearly 10 percent of the new ovarian cancer cases reported annually.
J&J is facing litigation nationwide charging it with failing to warn consumers about the cancer risks:
- Federal Court, New Jersey: The The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) created the new MDL 2738, In Re: Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Products Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation, supervised by US District Judge Freda L. Wolfson in the District of New Jersey. There are 100 lawsuits pending.
- State Court, New Jersey: The company successfully won dismissal of two cases in New Jersey when Atlantic County Superior Court Judge Nelson Johnson dismissed them in September after excluding two leading scientists from testifying as expert witnesses. The case is on appeal. There are 218 cases pending.
“J&J has stated they will aggressively litigate all talc-based cases, specifically while the verdicts in other venues are under appeal. It is widely accepted that J&J has withheld both scientific data and internal documents that reflect use of their talc based products are linked to ovarian cancer in women,” York commented.