Talcum Powder Settlements Reached by Imerys Talc for 22 Ovarian Cancer Claims

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While trial is now underway in Missouri state court for claims brought by 22 women who allege that they developed ovarian cancer from talcum powder, the supplier Imerys Talc has reportedly reached a settlement agreement with the plaintiffs, leaving the manufacturer Johnson & Johnson as the only remaining defendant in the cases.

Imerys Talc has been named as a co-defendant with Johnson & Johnson in thousands of Johnson’s Baby Powder lawsuits and Shower-to-Shower lawsuits filed nationwide, as the company supplied the talc used in the products.

The trial involves claims brought by nearly two dozen different women who each alleged that Johnson & Johnson and Imerys Talc failed to adequately warn about the risk that talcum powder may increase their risk of ovarian cancer if it is applied around their genitals.

The talcum powder settlements were reportedly reached just before the trial began, according a report by Bloomberg News, which indicates that the deal includes an agreement to pay at least $5 million.

The company, based in Paris, supplied the talc to Johnson & Johnson. Company officials have acknowledged that a settlement was reached and that it is no longer a part of the litigation in this case, but details of the agreement have not been released.

The decision to settle comes after several prior Missouri juries have already awarded multi-million dollar verdicts to individual women diagnosed with ovarian cancer, including verdicts of $70 million in November 2016, $55 million in May 2016 and $72 million in February 2016.

The current trial is the first case to go before a jury in Missouri since a Supreme Court decision last year, which Johnson & Johnson has attempted to argue limits the ability of non-resident plaintiffs to pursue their claims in the state court system.

In the wake of that June 2017 Supreme Court decision, a mistrial was grained in a Missouri state court trial involving talcum powder, and Johnson & Johnson has removed thousands of cases brought in Missouri by women from other states to the federal court system, where they are centralized as part of a federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) before U.S. District Judge Freda L. Wolfson in the District of New Jersey.

However, in late November 2017, a Missouri judge upheld a $110 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson in a one of the early talcum powder trials, determining the Supreme Court ruling does not prevent the state court jury from awarding damages for failing to warn a non-resident about the risk of ovarian cancer, since there were sufficient connections between certain defendants in the case and the state of Missouri.

Despite the substantial verdicts in early “bellwether” trials, Johnson & Johnson has indicated that it has no current plans to negotiate talcum powder settlements for women with ovarian cancer, which may result in the need for thousands of individual cases to eventually be set for trials in courts nationwide.

Some analysts have suggested that additional big awards returned in early trial dates may provide troubling signals for Johnson & Johnson in the talcum powder litigation, suggesting that juries find the company’s trial defense lacking in credibility.

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