The parties involved in talc powder cancer litigation have submitted scientific presentations that will be presented to the court later this year. The competing presentations by Johnson & Johnson (J&J) and plaintiffs’ attorneys are in response to a request made by the new judge presiding over the multidistrict litigation (MDL).
The MDL was transferred to U.S. District Judge Michael A. Shipp after the retirement of Judge Freda Wolfson, who oversaw the MDL from when it was established in 2016. These lawsuits accuse the company of selling asbestos-contaminated talcum products to consumers and deliberately covering up the potential risks of using talc and developing cancer. Prior to a 2-year litigation stay, juries returned massive plaintiff awards, including one that awarded 20 women nearly $4.7 billion in a 2018 Missouri state court.
Now that pretrial proceedings will resume due to court rulings that J&J’s subunit was created in bad faith to hold talc liabilities and escape more trials, Judge Shipp made the request for the presentations to bring the court up to speed on the scientific evidence in the litigation.
More than 60,000 lawsuits accuse Johnson & Johnson of selling talc baby powder or Shower-to-Shower allegedly contaminated with asbestos, and that the asbestos particles in those talc products caused the claimants to develop ovarian cancer, mesothelioma and other injuries.
Both parties submitted their presentations to the court on Sept. 15. According to the plan, each party would have up to three hours to present their side of the scientific interpretation.
In addition, the plaintiffs said in their letter to the Court that their presentation would educate the Court about not only the science behind the causal association between talc product usage and cancer, but also the procedural background of the litigation, medical facts, and liability issues. Attorneys for J&J, meanwhile, suggested in the letter to the court that the presentation should be focused only on the scientific facts surrounding talcum powder, asbestos and cancer.
The information presented during the forthcoming “Science Day” may be used to shape Judge Shipp’s rulings on what evidence will be presented, what scientific experts will be allowed to testify, and jury decisions, should bellwether trials be held.
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