A recent New Jersey appeals court ruling to revive two lawsuits that alleged talc in Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder causing ovarian cancer could lead to the reinstatement of 1,000 similar suits, Bloomberg News reported.
“There are approximately 1,000 ovarian cancer cases currently filed in New Jersey state court, with more to come,” Ted Meadows, a lawyer representing women in the baby powder cases, told Bloomberg in a statement. “This ruling paves the way for those cases to proceed to trial.”
Johnson & Johnson is headquartered in New Jersey and had tried to transfer as many of the talc cases to New Jersey to gain a home-state advantage, Bloomberg said. That strategy may not be working considering the recent appeals court ruling and a February jury verdict of $750 million in a talc case, said Bloomberg.
In an emailed statement on the appeals court ruling, Johnson & Johnson spokeswoman Kim Montagnino said,
“We respect the court’s decision and are fully prepared to defend the safety of our product in court. We remain confident that our talc is safe, asbestos-free, and does not cause cancer.”
A $10 billion potential payout
Johnson & Johnson may eventually have to pay as much as $10 billion to resolve the suits, Bloomberg said, citing a Bloomberg Intelligence analyst. There are now more than 20,000 talc cases pending against the company, the story said.
Product pulled from the market
The company pulled its baby powder off the market in May, citing a drop in demand caused by the lawsuits and “misinformation” about the safety of the product.
The New Jersey appeals court ruling found that a lower court judge, Nelson Johnson, “was wrong to assess the credibility of plaintiffs’ experts Graham Colditz and Daniel Cramer in excluding their testimony, rather than scrutinizing the methodologies behind their conclusions that talc can cause ovarian cancer,” Bloomberg reported.
“Deciding credibility is an issue for the jury, not the judge, they said.”
Imerys Talc America, part of a French-based company, Imerys SA, mined the talc used in Johnson & Johnson baby powder. It was named as a defendant in the talc lawsuits but filed for bankruptcy last year.
“The company is offering to settle more than 14,000 talc lawsuits by selling itself and other Imerys units as part of the bankruptcy and putting the proceeds into a trust for claimants,” Bloomberg said.