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Following several massive jury verdicts awarded to women diagnosed with ovarian cancer from talcum powder, which are pending on appeal, court records indicate that Johnson & Johnson faces similar claims brought on behalf of more than 5,000 other women nationwide.
Last month, a California jury awarded $417 million to a woman who developed cancer following years of using Johnson & Johnson talc powder for feminine hygiene purposes, including $347 million in punitive damages designed to punish the manufacturer for failing to warn consumers about the risks associated with applying the powder around the genitals.
With another Missouri trial that is set to begin next month, and a steady stream of additional cases likely to be set for trials nationwide, Johnson & Johnson could face staggering liability over the coming years.
A Joint Agenda and Report (PDF) submitted in advance of a status conference scheduled for today in the federal court system highlights the number of Johnson & Johnson lawsuits pending on behalf of women nationwide.
Since October 2016, all cases pending in federal courts nationwide have been consolidated for pretrial proceedings before U.S. District Judge Freda L. Wolfson in the District of New Jersey. There are currently at least 727 Johnson’s Baby Powder lawsuits and Shower-to-Shower lawsuits that have been transferred to the federal multidistrict litigation (MDL), involving claims brought on behalf of 2,514 plaintiffs.
Another 19 cases, involving 1,524 plaintiffs, were recently remanded from the federal court system back to Missouri state court, where there are already 15 other cases pending. In addition, the report indicates that there are currently 157 cases pending in California, involving 731 plaintiffs, another 78 cases in Delaware state court, 228 cases in New Jersey state court and one or two cases scattered throughout several other states.
Each of the complaints raise similar allegations, indicating that talc contained in the products may migrate through the vagina and increase the risk of ovarian cancer. Although plaintiffs point to studies and evidence that suggest Johnson & Johnson knew about the risk, the manufacturer continued to push use of talcum powder among adult women for “personal freshness.”
Despite the mounting litigation and large verdicts, Johnson & Johnson has refused to negotiate talcum powder cancer settlements so far, indicating that it will continue to defend claims in courts nationwide.