Thousands of plaintiffs who believe that healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson's powder caused their cancer hold their breath as roughly 12,000 lawsuits remain under scrutiny.
Comprising the majority of the 14,000 similar cases currently pending against Johnson & Johnson, the 12,000 lawsuits have been consolidated from around the country in what's known as multidistrict litigation.
All allege that asbestos in Johnson & Johnson's talc-based baby powder—also known as “talcum” powder—causes ovarian cancer and mesothelioma.
Both cancers are considered aggressive and extremely deadly. Ovarian cancer, specifically, has no screening test. Consequently, the cancer often goes undetected until it’s too late to effectively treat.
Hoping to invalidate potentially incriminating evidence, Johnson & Johnson has invoked the Daubert test- a five-point legal “checklist” used to assess the reliability of scientific or technical evidence.
Also known as the Daubert standard, the process relies on criteria such as whether a theory or technique has been tested and whether research has been published under the scrutiny of peer review.
This process occurs in what’s known as a Daubert hearing - which reached conclusion for thousands of talc lawsuits last Wednesday.
The conflicting expert testimony from both sides went on for eights days and was followed by a subsequent three day pre-trial hearing in a New Jersey federal court before U.S. District Judge Freda Wolfson.
Now, Wolfson will decide if the scientific evidence demonstrating the carcinogenicity of the baby powder is reliable and relevant enough, in whole or in part, to be presented before juries.
Wolfson has the power to dismiss not only all of the evidence but also the 12,000 cases themselves. If she does, Johnson & Johnson will be relieved of 79% of all outstanding baby powder lawsuits, as stated by CNBC.
It remains unknown when Wolfson will issue her decision, which could then be appealed, causing further delays for plaintiffs - many of whom are not well.
In 2018, Johnson and Johnson suffered its greatest blow to date when a Missouri jury slapped the mega-company with a whopping $4.69 billion payout to 22 women with ovarian cancer.
Per a report by the Pennsylvania Record, the company is now appealing the verdict.
Johnson & Johnson is certainly feeling the heat. Meanwhile, those seeking legal recourse for the adverse health impacts of Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder hold their breath.