Talcum Powder Lawsuit Updates & News | April 2024

Editorial Team

ConsumerShield

Reviewed By Adam Ramirez, J.D.

Editor

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The connection between talcum powder and cancer, especially ovarian cancer, have resulted in lawsuits against brands like Johnson and Johnson and others. This lawsuit was filed by women who were diagnosed with ovarian cancer and those who were suspected to have been harmed by talc-based products, exercising their consumer rights to ensure safety.

Unlike other manufacturers who claimed not to use talc in the production of their cosmetics, in 2020, they took the products away from the U.S. markets and replaced them (Talc-based powder) with cornstarch-based baby powder, but maintained sales in other parts of the world.

As the link between talcum powder and cancer continues to evolve, the legal landscape evolves with new verdicts, settlements, and ongoing trials. Here are some of the most recent legal developments:

  1. During a recent court session, a talc lawyer responded to accusations from Johnson & Johnson (J&J) of ethical breaches. The allegations centered around his supposed collaboration with a former J&J attorney in crafting a $19 billion settlement proposal in ongoing talcum powder litigation. In his defense, the lawyer clarified that the former J&J attorney had no role in shaping their settlement strategy. He dismissed the claims as trivial, suggesting J&J's actions were motivated by spite, and admitted that the situation reflects poorly on all parties involved.

  2. In Sarasota, Florida, a wrongful death lawsuit has been initiated against Johnson & Johnson (J&J). The claim, filed by the widower of a woman who used J&J's baby powder for many years before succumbing to ovarian cancer, marks the second ovarian cancer trial following J&J's bankruptcy proceedings. The first trial involved an anesthesiologist's death, but it ended without a verdict due to a deadlocked jury in Miami, as detailed in our February 14th update.

  3. MDL witnessed the addition of 143 new cases over the past month. While significant for other mass torts, this represents a mere .003% increase for the talc MDL, bringing the total to 53,939 pending cases.

  4. Judge Michael A. Shipp has called for all parties involved to resubmit their Daubert motions due to updates in the Federal Rule of Evidence 702, recent scientific advancements, and aspects noted in Chief Judge Wolfson’s earlier Daubert Opinion. The new deadline for submission is set for July 23, 2024, with counterarguments due by August 22, 2024.

  5. Plaintiffs' lawyers are contesting Johnson & Johnson's (J&J) attempt to block a subpoena for PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) records regarding J&J's talcum powder product liabilities. The subpoena demands details on how J&J managed its contingent liabilities in financial statements. J&J argues these are protected by attorney-client privilege. However, plaintiffs highlight the significance of these records, especially amid J&J's hints at filing for bankruptcy to manage talc lawsuit liabilities. They insist this data is essential for understanding J&J's financial strategy for settling talc claims.

  6. After experiencing a surge in new talc claims at the end of last summer, the pace of filings in the talcum powder multidistrict litigation (MDL) has notably decreased. Since the beginning of this year, only approximately 60 new cases have been added to the MDL, indicating a slowdown in the rate of new claims being filed.

  7. A Florida jury couldn't decide if Johnson & Johnson's baby powder caused a Miami anesthesiologist's cancer, resulting in a mistrial. The deceased's husband, a lawyer, sued the company for $14 million, claiming the powder caused his wife's death.

  8. January 2024 witnessed the introduction of 34 new lawsuits into the talcum powder class action MDL, increasing the total number of active cases to 53,767. This continuation of low case volume for the third month follows an initial influx of thousands of cases right after the lifting of the bankruptcy stay.

  9. The talcum powder Multi-District Litigation (MDL) has undergone a change in the pace of new case filings:

    • Initial Surge: Following the lifting of the bankruptcy stay at the end of summer, there was an increase in cases being added to the MDL.
    • Recent Slowdown: However, this increase has recently slowed down, with only four new cases filed in the recent weeks.
    • Current Total: There are now 53,733 cases in total.
  10. Investors of Johnson & Johnson (J&J) have initiated a class action lawsuit, paralleling the allegations made in the personal injury and wrongful death claims of the talc baby powder litigation. This new lawsuit, which has been certified as a class action by a federal court judge in New Jersey, raises significant issues:

    Misleading Statements: The crux of the investors' lawsuit is that J&J made deceptive public statements about its product safety and research commitments.

    Internal Awareness: Investors allege that while J&J publicly vouched for the safety of its talc products, the company was internally cognizant of concerns. These concerns, raised by an external laboratory, pointed to the insufficiency of J&J's methods for detecting asbestos in its talc products.

    This class action by J&J investors adds another dimension to the ongoing scrutiny of the company's practices and transparency, particularly regarding its talc products.

  11. The final week of 2023 witnessed minimal activity in the talcum powder class action Multi-District Litigation (MDL) docket. Key updates include:

    New Case Filings: Only 5 new cases were directly filed into the MDL.

    Notice of Plaintiff's Death: A suggestion of death was filed for one of the approximately 50,000 plaintiffs who have pending claims in the MDL.

    This slow pace marks a subdued close to the year for the talcum powder litigation, reflecting typical end-of-year lulls in legal proceedings.

  12. In response to Johnson & Johnson's (J&J) recent motion accusing a plaintiffs' talc powder law firm of unethical conduct, the firm has issued a rebuttal. Key points in this ongoing legal dispute include:

    J&J's Allegations: J&J filed a motion alleging that the plaintiffs' law firm formed an improper relationship with a former attorney who had previously worked with J&J. The accusation centered around the use of confidential information potentially gained through this collaboration.

    Law Firm's Response: The plaintiffs’ law firm firmly denied any acquisition of privileged information, framing J&J's motion as a diversion from its own shortcomings in handling talc injury claims.

    Context for Victims: While these developments might seem significant, they represent a minor issue in the broader scope of the talc litigation. The recent period has been relatively quiet, with a focus on settlements and the approaching holiday season.

    Looking Ahead to 2024: As we move into the new year, the hope is that updates will increasingly focus on the progress towards a comprehensive global settlement in the talc powder litigation, aimed at compensating all affected victims.

  13. Johnson & Johnson (J&J) is taking legal action to disqualify a plaintiffs’ attorney and their law firm from the ongoing talcum powder multidistrict litigation (MDL). The basis of J&J's argument is centered on:

    Recent Partnership Concerns: The plaintiffs' attorney has formed a partnership with a former lawyer who previously represented the other side in the talcum powder cases. This partnership is particularly notable as it plays a role in negotiating a substantial $19 billion settlement for ovarian cancer claims linked to J&J’s talcum powder products.

    Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Issues: J&J contends that this new alliance could lead to a conflict of interest and unauthorized access to confidential information, which were part of the former lawyer's previous engagement.

    This move by J&J adds a layer of complexity to the resolution process of the numerous talcum powder cases, highlighting the delicate balance between legal strategy and ethical considerations in high-stakes litigation.

  14. The talcum powder cancer Multi-District Litigation (MDL) has seen an addition of just under 400 new lawsuits over the past month. This increase brings the total number of pending cases in the MDL to 53,729, reflecting a continuous growth in the volume of claims being filed.

  15. The Talcum powder Multi-District Litigation (MDL) continues to expand, with an additional 300 cases filed in the past month, raising the total number of pending cases to 53,311. Since the lifting of the bankruptcy stay 10 weeks ago, the MDL has experienced a significant influx of over 6,000 new talc-related cases. This steady increase reflects the ongoing momentum and growing scale of the litigation surrounding talcum powder.

  16. In California, a new trial has commenced against Johnson & Johnson, with the plaintiff alleging that his mesothelioma was caused by the company’s talcum powder. Defense attorney Kim Bueno contends that the plaintiff's cancer stems not from talcum powder, but from asbestos exposure at other locations, such as Naval Shipyards and a brakes factory near an asbestos plant. During her opening statement, Bueno criticized the plaintiff's narrow focus on talcum powder, terming it as “talc tunnel vision.” On the other side, the plaintiff maintains that there is no substantial evidence of significant asbestos exposure from any other sources, placing the responsibility squarely on Johnson & Johnson’s product.

  17. Johnson & Johnson (J&J) is reportedly considering a third attempt at filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy for its LTL unit, in an effort to settle ongoing cancer-related lawsuits linked to its talc products. After facing rejection twice in New Jersey courts, where the Third Circuit ruled that the LTL (J&J subsidary company) didn’t demonstrate immediate financial distress or file in good faith, J&J is now eyeing the Southern District of Texas in the Fifth Circuit. The company appears to be strategizing on the potential for a more favorable outcome in this different jurisdiction. However, there's a strong indication that this move might not succeed, potentially leading to further financial expenditure by J&J without resolving the core litigation issues.

  18. Los Angeles County has initiated legal action against Johnson & Johnson (J&J), alleging that the company's talc-containing products have led to cancer and mesothelioma among its residents. The lawsuit asserts that J&J was aware of the health risks for decades but continued to market these products regardless. The county is seeking damages and has highlighted in its lawsuit J&J's controversial "Texas two-step" legal maneuver, an attempt to manage liabilities through a subsidiary's bankruptcy that has been previously dismissed by courts. Additionally, the lawsuit accuses J&J of specifically targeting minority women in its advertising campaigns.

  19. After nearly two years of stagnation due to Johnson & Johnson's (J&J) unsuccessful attempts to transfer the talcum powder litigation to bankruptcy, there's a shift in momentum. With the delay now concluded, at least temporarily, the judge overseeing the Multi-District Litigation (MDL) has issued a new scheduling order for six cases earmarked for bellwether trials. These trials involve plaintiffs who claim they developed cancer due to asbestos exposure from J&J's talc product, Shower-to-Shower. This move is seen as a significant step in advancing the litigation and addressing the claims of the plaintiffs.

  20. After almost two years of stagnation due to Johnson & Johnson's unsuccessful attempts to shift the talcum powder litigation into bankruptcy, momentum is now being regained. The presiding judge in the talcum powder MDL has released a fresh scheduling order for six bellwether trials. These plaintiffs argue that their cancer diagnoses were a result of asbestos contamination in J&J's talcum product, Shower-to-Shower.

  21. Johnson & Johnson is reportedly weighing the option of once again resorting to bankruptcy as a strategy to resolve the ongoing lawsuits alleging carcinogenic substances in its talc-based baby powder. This consideration, despite the expected unlikelihood of success mirroring their past two attempts, signals a potential advancement in settlement negotiations. J&J's consideration of this cumbersome process seems more like a strategic ploy to compel all parties involved to push forward, despite the added complications it presents.

  22. Following the three-month mark since the cessation of the bankruptcy stay, the class action MDL against Johnson & Johnson has witnessed an influx of more than 16,000 new talcum powder lawsuits. Just last month, an additional 5,649 cases joined the fray, pushing the total number of pending litigations past the 50,000 threshold.

  23. Johnson & Johnson secured a legal victory as an appellate court overturned a previous $223 million jury verdict awarded to consumers who claimed their cancers resulted from asbestos in the company's talc-based products. The court cited the influence of flawed scientific evidence on the initial verdict. With a retrial on the horizon, there's potential for an even larger judgment against J&J.

  24. The lifting of the bankruptcy stay two months ago triggered a surge in new talcum powder lawsuits joining the MDL. In the initial 60 days post-stay, the MDL saw an influx of approximately 170 daily cases. Yet, in the past fortnight, this rate has decelerated to about 70 cases daily. Despite this reduced pace, the projection still stands at an upward of 2,000 fresh talc allegations on a monthly basis.

  25. As of 2023, thousands of talcum powder lawsuits remain pending in courts across the U.S. The majority of these lawsuits are part of a multi-district litigation (MDL) in federal court, which consolidates similar lawsuits to expedite the legal process.

  26. Amid thousands of lawsuits and growing public concern, Johnson & Johnson announced in May 2020 that it would stop selling its talc-based baby powder in the United States and Canada.

  27. In 2020, Bloomberg reported that Johnson & Johnson was considering a plan to offload talc liabilities to a newly created business that could then seek bankruptcy protection. This could potentially impact future payouts and settlements.

  28. Several multi-million-dollar verdicts have been appealed by Johnson & Johnson. In some cases, such as the $72 million and $55 million verdicts from 2016, the verdicts were overturned on jurisdictional grounds. However, plaintiffs have vowed to continue their legal battles.

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