Centralization Sought for Johnson & Johnson Sunscreen Spray Lawsuits Filed Over Presence of Benzene

With a growing number of product liability lawsuits being filed against Johnson & Johnson over recalled sunscreen products which may contain cancer-causing chemicals, a motion has been filed in the federal court system to consolidate and centralize the litigation before one U.S. District Judge for coordinated pretrial proceedings.

There are currently at least eight complaints filed in different U.S. District Courts nationwide, each raising similar allegations that Johnson & Johnson endangered consumers’ health by not warning them of the presence of benzene in brands of Neutrogena and Aveeno spray sunscreen, which could increase their risk of cancer.

Johnson & Johnson announced a Neutrogena and Aveeno sunscreen recall on July 14, after routine sample testing identified the presence of benzene, which is a chemical classified as a human carcinogen, depending on level and extent of exposure.

Benzene is an industrial chemical that has been associated with the development of several fatal forms of cancer, leukemia and other conditions, such as AML, Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML), Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL), Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL), Hairy Cell Leukemia (HCL), Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Multiple Myeloma, Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDL), Myelofibrosis and Myeloid Metaplasia, Aplastic Anemia and Thrombocytopenic Purpura.

Due to the potential health risks, the FDA to indicate that it should not be included in drug or consumer products, if avoidable. However, if benzene is not avoidable, it should be restricted to 2 ppm, FDA regulations state. However, testing suggests that levels of benzene in the Neutrogena and Aveeno sunscreen may substantially exceed the permissible levels.

Long-term side effects of benzene exposure have been proven to cause anemia, which is a condition that develops when your blood lacks enough healthy red blood cells or hemoglobin. Essentially, the chemical causes bone marrow not to produce enough red blood cells, which can damage an individual’s immune system. Federal regulators have determined long-term exposure to benzene can significantly impact blood cells, to the extent it causes cancer such as leukemia, a cancer of the blood-forming organs.

In a motion to transfer (PDF) filed on July 29 with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML), plaintiffs requested that all cases filed throughout the federal court system be transferred to the District of New Jersey for pretrial proceedings, to avoid duplicative discovery and conflicting rulings from different judges as the number of cases grows.

“Even a cursory review of the pleadings reveals that the factual issues to be determined in each of the actions are nearly identical, making transfer to a single forum highly appropriate,” the motion states.

In complex product liability litigation, where a large number of claims are filed throughout the federal court system by individuals who suffered similar injuries as a result of the same product, it is common for the federal court system to centralize the litigation for pretrial proceedings. However, if settlements are not reached during discovery or following a series of early “bellwether” trials, each claim may later be remanded back to the U.S. District Court where it was originally filed to go before a jury.

1 Comments

  • MelindaAugust 4, 2021 at 1:26 pm

    I have the Beach Defense spray. I have used on myself, grandchildren, others in family. What should I do?

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